Jopo & Jopette - The "Spirit of Carnival"
"Jopo" the Jester's role in the life of Carnival is to symbolize the happy spirit of Carnival. "Jopo" first appeared in 1965 as a brainchild of Mrs. John Maynard who thought Vernon should have a character to identify our Winter Carnival. She designed the costume and Bill Allum (along with his wife Lorraine) emerged as the first "Jopos". Mary Huggins helped by creating the facial make-up. At this time (1965) the Jester did not have a name and a contest was launched.
The winning entry was submitted by 12 year old Tina Wunderli, who won $25 for her efforts.
The demands on "Jopo" were great and carnival officials came up with more identical "Jopos". In the late 60's acrobatic dance Karen Smith entertained at the Queen Silver Star Proclamation as the first "Jopette".
In 1971 a "Jopo" committee was formed as the demands on their time grew. 9 "Jopos" and 3 "Jopettes" were used at this time and these Jesters continue to be an integral part of Carnival.
The "Sheriff's Jail" was introduced to Carnival in 1966 and was run by Vernon Associated Canadian Travellers. The main purpose of the jail, while adding colour and levity to Carnival, was to raise money for the "Elmer the Safety Elephant: campaign. This campaign taught children in local schools the rules of safety first on the streets and in the playgrounds.
The jail was set up in front of the Bank of Montreal and the Sheriff was responsible for selling badges and Carnival regalia. Anyone found not wearing an official carnival badge was hauled into the jail or the "Hoosegow" as it was called. The fine was to buy some carnival wear or a button. Those unwilling to buy a souvenir were thrown into jail with an option to work off their fine.
Over time there was a transition from sheriff to Karnival Kop. Mr. Ed Flegel was perfect in this role as he fashioned it around the "Keystone Kops". He was a regular at "Jopo House" and brought laughs and cheer to everyone with his imitations of farm animals and bird calls. He was also out there arresting people not in the Carnival spirit. Ed passed away in 1980 and his job was taken over by Mr. Ken Little.
Ken brought more style to the job as he fashioned his costume on the uniforms worn by the "London Bobbies" or policemen. His wife Joyce was in England, where her brother was a "Bobbie" and he gave her a helmet. Ken used his fire chiefs uniform adapting it to the "Bobbie" look. Over the years the English style changed and a new helmet was sent over by his brother-in-law. Ken said that this job was "one of the highlights of his life". In 1984 the "k's" were dropped from the Carnival Cops and things have stayed relatively the same since that time. Ken did his job on his own for many years but found that the time requirements over Carnival were such the he asked permission to have an assistant. Charlie Banner, then manager of Safeway was the new "cop" and since that time Carnival has been in need of more volunteers and tries to have four to six people to fill this important role of Carnival.
All throughout Carnival you will see the Carnival Cops delivering buttons, brochures, posters, attending events and making stops with what is now known as the "Arrest the Best" jail. The cops now take requests to show up at local businesses and arrest your boss, co-worker, employee, whomever! The arrestee must raise bail money by calling everyone he/she knows to be released. This has become a fun, competitive event and a fundraiser for the Vernon Winter Carnival. Arrange to have the Arrest the Best jail visit you this Carnival!
Jopo & Jopette and the Carnival Cops are portrayed by our hard working volunteers. If you're interested in being a Carnival Mascot apply online today!