RED NOSE DAY
Stephen Colbert, Laura Linney, Luke Parker Bowles, Richard Curtis and Chiwetel Ejiofor attend the Montclair Film Festival 2016 Richard Curtis Conversation And Filmmaker Tribute at the Montclair Country Club on April 30, 2016 in Montclair, New Jersey. COURTESY PAUL ZIMMEMAN/GETTY IMAGES FOR MONTCLAIR FILM FESTIVAL

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

Some students will paint portraits of people in red, to auction them off (Glenfield Middle School).

Some will paint faces of their parents (Charles H. Bullock Elementary School).

Some will hold a red-clad fashion show (Buzz Aldrin Middle School).

Taping the the principal to the wall with pieces of red tape is for a good cause, too. (Watchung School).

That’s because all the activities are part of Red Nose day. All over town, at many of the schools, students are wearing, selling and drawing red noses.

Businesses are participating too. Red Eye Café is renaming itself Red Nose Café. Montclair Bread Company is hosting a “fun run” at the end of the day.

Red noses are a part of all the activities: wearing them, selling them, drawing them. It’s all part of a town-wide effort to raise money for children.

Wednesday, May 9, Montclair schools, the fire department, the police department and some local businesses will have a town activation day to prepare for the actual Red Nose Day, on Thursday, May 24.

Red Nose Day is a subset of Comic Relief, and is an organization that raises money for children around the world. Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson issued a proclamation  at a Township Council meeting on Tuesday, April 17 declaring May 24 Montclair’s Red Nose Day.

The May 9 activation day is kind of a case study, said Beth Breslauer, director of residency in schools for Red Nose Day. Having so many activities happen before the actual Red Nose Day will show other towns what is possible, Breslauer said. “We wanted to use Montclair as an example of how a whole town can paint the town red.”

Red Nose Day
Luke Parker Bowles is a senior ambassador for Red Nose Day. NEIL GRABOWSKY/FOR MONTCLAIR FILM

Montclair resident Luke Parker Bowles, a board member of the Montclair Film Festival, chairman of BAFTA New York and senior ambassador for Red Nose Day, helped open doors in the schools, in the mayor’s office and in businesses, she said. “I think they saw our collective enthusiasm, and as a result this is really going to be a case study for how Comic Relief and Red Nose day could be in coming years,” Parker Bowles said. “And it all goes to children. I don’t know how you can argue with that.  I don’t see any argument when it comes to kids and making sure that they have enough food and they have money to be able to have shelter.”

Parker Bowles said he grew up celebrating Red Nose Day in England. The charity is a subset of Comic Relief, an organization founded in 1986 by comic scriptwriter Richard Curtis (who was a special guest honoree at MFF in 2016) and comedian Lenny Henry, in response to familine in Ethiopia. Comic Relief held a biennial telethon titled “Red Nose Day.”   

“As a child it would be something that we would watch every year religiously because it was all of the top comedians,” Parker Bowles said. It was part of the bedrock of growing up in the U.K.

“It sounds slightly trite, but it absolutely lifts people up. I have a red nose on the front of my car. People you see smile. That’s what this is about,” he said.

The number of kids who are homeless, who only have one meal a day, is shocking, but the event itself relies on comedy, he added.

 The U.K. team brought Red Nose Day to America in 2015, Breslauer said. Since then, the organization has raised $100 million, and helped 8 million kids. Half of the money raised in Red Nose Day in America helps children internationally, and half helps children in the United States, helping Covenant House, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Save the Children, ahd others.

 “Our vision is a just world free of poverty. And our mission is to drive positive change through the power of entertainment,” Breslauer said.

In America, Red Nose Day is just about four years old.  Corporate partners include Walgreens, the official Red Nose retailer; NBC, the official broadcast partner; Mars, Inc; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Parker Bowles got Montclair Film Festival involved three years ago, with Curtis and Montclair Film Executive Director Tom Hall. Hall and Parker Bowles livestreamed a 24-hour movie marathon, and raised more than $14,000 dollars in its first year. This year, on Thursday, May 24, Parker Bowles and Hall will do so again, with a marathon focusing on music performance films. And for every film watched, Hall will assign Parker Bowles a challenge based on a song or theme from the film, according to a release. These will all be captured on Facebook.

For example, during the “Gimme Shelter” challenge, Parker Bowles must stay inside a children’s “fort” he and his children have constructed, until he receives 20 donations for his TeamLuke page.

“And this and this is just the beginning,” Parker Bowles said, about all of the townwide events. “I don’t know what we’re going to do next year.”

 For information on Red Nose Day, and how money is apportioned, visit https://rednoseday.org/impact.