The leaves are beginning to change, Starbucks and Java City have numerous pumpkin-flavored beverages, and all around campus we see students breaking out their scarves and sweaters.
Autumn is supposed to be an enjoyable time of year. Who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of this season and all the sales on chocolate? And then, of course, there’s Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. But something about this year is different, and in my opinion, it is ruining this time of year for me. That something is clowns.
Under normal circumstances, clowns are unnerving and frightening. There is nothing about them that I find amusing or pleasant. Now I know that some people (my own mother included) disagree with me regarding this notion. Differences in opinions aside, I believe everyone, clown-lovers and clown-haters, can agree that the creepy clown sightings that have been occurring in increasing frequency across the country are something to be concerned about.
According to USA Today, police departments in nearly 20 states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, have investigated reports of creepy clowns prowling the streets of residential neighborhoods. Many news sources have declared the country to be in a state “clown panic.” So is this hype or should we really be concerned? Let’s look at the evidence.
Many of the documented clown sightings were determined to be false reports, with several individuals from various states facing charges for these false reports. Despite this, communities across the country are taking additional precautions, particularly schools. Schools in Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey, Texas and several other states experienced “soft lockdowns” in the past week in response to reported sightings and social media posts concerning creepy clowns.
The concern in some of these communities seems justified, as numerous reports have actually been determined to be legitimate:
Mississippi- (Sept. 21) A clown was seen both by residents and police carrying a machete but ran upon noticing the police presence
Florida- (Sept. 29) Children were reportedly chased by a clown after getting off the bus but were not harmed
Ohio- (Sept. 2) A teenager was chased by a clown with a knife at 6:15 a.m., but the clown was deterred when the victim threw a rock at it. (Sept. 27) A pair of clowns were spotted, one wielding a kitchen knife; no one was harmed. (Sept. 29) A minor was arrested in connection with clown related-threats against a high school.
Tennessee, – (Sept. 28) Two clowns robbed a bank, armed with explosives, and have not yet been apprehended.
New York- (Oct. 2) A clown holding a BB gun was reported standing on a railroad bridge overpass and staring at cars traveling on the road below
New Jersey- (Sept. 28) A clown was seen in a mall parking lot staring at passersby as they approached their cars. (Sept. 30) A clown was seen peering through the windows of homes at 1 a.m. (Oct. 3) A clown emerged from some bushes and scared as a high school student who was walking to class.
Pennsylvania- (Sept. 22) Children were yelled at and chased by clowns near a wooded area, the children were not harmed. (Sept. 25) A 16-year-old was stabbed to death by a clown; a suspect is now in custody.
Needless to say, these reports are disturbing. In an attempt to keep control of the public, police departments have been instructing their communities “Don’t be afraid of the clowns.” Their rationale is that increased public concern will only encourage the sickos that are behind this nonsense.
While I typically am one to side with the police, I am respectfully disagreeing and going into panic-mode. I think that we should be concerned about clowns roaming our neighborhoods and chasing people with knives. I am especially worried after hearing talk of clowns spotted on Clay Ave, near Goodfellas and Turkey Hill, and among the sophomore dorms this past Monday. I was walking home at 9:30 p.m. after class when my roommate and I came across multiple groups of students declaring that they were going “clown hunting” in the Hill Section.
With Halloween quickly approaching, I am having second thoughts on celebrating this otherwise enjoyable holiday. I am not so sure that I want to be out and about on Halloween weekend with potential psychos in clown suits prowling around downtown Scranton. I think everyone is going to need to be a little more cautious this Halloween to ensure that we do not become a living reenactment of the movies “It” or “Stitches.”