By Clare Driscoll, ’19
This summer and continuing into autumn, the nation has been swarmed with widespread attacks from unidentified people dressed as clowns, causing unease and fear across the country.
The first of these recent sightings was reported by Donna Arnold of South Carolina. In August, Arnold’s son ran into their apartment claiming there were two men dressed as clowns trying to lure him into the woods with money and candy.
Arnold dismissed these claims, assuming her son was just imagining things or telling stories, until she was confronted by other parents from her apartment complex who said their children had experienced similar experiences with clowns. That day, Arnold filed a police report and the hunt for these two clowns began.
Many news stations nationwide reported on Arnold’s story, including ones in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Later in the summer, both of these states and many others would suffer attacks from these clowns.
At Pennsylvania State University, when a clown was spotted by a faculty member, hundreds of students ran through the streets on a mass clown hunt. A live stream from one student shows people chanting “kill the clowns” as others burn clown wigs and costumes while walking down the streets of the university.
Reading City Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio were forced to cancel school on Sept. 30 when a woman was attacked by a man dressed as a clown. After brutally attacking the woman the clown allegedly made threats against students and teachers at the junior and senior high schools.
Though clowns have been reported in all 50 states, according to The New York Times, only 12 people have been arrested for clown related instances. Many of these situations have been exaggerated by rumors spread on social media.
Sophomore Ethan Stichler said, “I saw lots of people who posted that they had either seen clowns or been attacked by clowns but, after looking into it all of [the claims] were fake.”
According to Time magazine, creepy clowns are not a new fad. People have been dressing as clowns with the intent to terrorize others since as early as 1981. During that year, the towns of Brooklyn, Kansas City, Boston and Pittsburgh all had many groups of clowns who targeted mostly lower class children.
Then in 1991 there were many claims of a Chicago man who would dress as Homey D. Clown from the popular television show In Living Color. More than 40 children and two teachers from a local elementary school reported they saw this man offering children candy and money to get into his van with “Ha Ha” painted on the side.
But as for the more recent wave of clowns, there hasn’t been enough evidence to connect these sightings to one motive.
“I think that once people realized how scared people were of the clowns, more thought it would be funny to keep [the fad] going just to freak people out,” Stichler said.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a significant decrease in clown activity, slowing to a distinct halt. Parents and children can now rest easy, as the clown fad may be over.