My husband's cousin's mom is a clown. She is so popular that you have to book her a year in advance!!! Years ago, (IDK when) she even performed at the White House. She can make the most amazing balloon animals and whatever else you want.
I'm terrified of clowns and always have been. When I was little, my mom would take us to the parades in town and without fail, a clown would come up an offer me candy. I'd make a beeline behind my mom. I just find them beyond creepy. No, I've never hired anyone for my kids parties.
I have not hired a CLOWN, but I have hired in the past; Ponies, Face Painter, & Cinderella (Cinderella played games with the kids, did face painting as well & balloon animals). I will hire in the future as well. One of my friends does pony parties, so I have hired her a few times. And, I have found groupons & living socials for the other stuff.