By Gwen Willems
If you see a gentleman blowing a few huge bubbles or numerous little ones at Hampden Park, stop by and say “Hi” to our neighbor.
Larry Ripp’s character Sir Sydney Soapington, the Baron of Bubble, likes to practice there. He’s a popular entertainer at birthday parties, block parties, renaissance festivals, ice cream socials, fall festivals and even retirement home gatherings. Ripp, to use his words, produces “fleeting art that floats.”
To book the Baron and the First Lady of Foam (his life partner Vickijean), who makes balloon creations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Ripp’s 14th year creating bubbles as the baron, in what he calls his side hustle, something he loves doing since his retirement from being a janitor at the University of Minnesota.
“I just like bubbles!” Ripp said. “They’re so flexible, they can become serpentine. Some are perfectly round, some of them can stretch. It’s like lying on your back and seeing the clouds form special shapes. I look forward to going to every event I have.”
Kids love his bubbles because he has the kind of equipment and soaps to make bubbles as large as refrigerators, doors and even as long as his Impreza vehicle.
Ripp started working with bubbles when, as an actor, he was doing a play festival in Madison, Wisconsin, and went to a toy store.
“I got the equipment for my grandson,” he said. “It came with a recipe, so I bought a bucket, mixed up some soap, and went into the motel parking lot. When I made my very first bubble, people pulled out their cameras to take photos.
“The most satisfying thing about doing bubbles is when someone sees me making them for the first time,” Ripp said. “The second most satisfying thing is when a kid makes a bubble, I catch the bubble, I say some special magic words, and when I open my hands, there’s a jewel, and they get to keep the jewel.”
Ripp has different poems and stories to tell during performances and has written a book called, of course, “The Baron of Bubble!”
“I’m the Baron of Bubble because Bubble is a place,” Ripp said. “When a kid asks where I’m from, I point to a cloud in the sky and say, ‘You can’t see it, but on the other side of that cloud is my castle.”
Larry Ripp as Sir Sydney Soapington, the Baron of Bubble. Photo submitted by Larry Ripp.
Gwen Willems lives in Falcon Heights and is a Bugle freelance writer.