Clown sightings have been documented in at least 39 states in the past two months resulting in several arrests, public paranoia and unrest.
These recent clown sightings aren’t the first of their kind, however. After the 1980s murders of infamous serial killer and clown entertainer, John Wayne Gacy, throughout the 1990s local newspapers reported multiple clown sightings around the country.
But with the advent of social media, the clown frenzy came into prominence in 2014 with just a few occurring in few states, little of them being actual threats and some being pranks gone horribly wrong.
Recently, the trend blew up due to a hoax reported in Greenville, South Carolina, involving several children seeing two clowns near a local forest in August of this year.
The craze has finally reached California with pranksters with the help of social media outlets like Instagram and Twitter showcasing their “next targets.”
In Fresno, California, two 14-year-old girls were arrested in relation to plan a school shooting, all while mentioning and referencing these incidents with clowns.
In Los Angeles County, a clown sighting Instagram Account, wearecomingtocali_, has gathered over 2,000 followers.
In Orange County, a Twitter Account called Irvine Clowns has threatened to scare local schools in the area.
These clowns have been seen lurking around neighborhoods and schools spanning from middle school to universities, some in broad daylight or mostly in the late hours of the nighttime.
Fullerton College students shared their opinions about the latest social media trend.
Cameron Haugen, music major, advises the next person who wants to dress up as a clown and scare the public to “not set the precedent and be the first clown shot in Orange County.”
Jude Muhtaseb, business administration major, believed at first these events were “creepy” but now realizes that it “says a lot about where our society is.”
Campus safety officers advise students and faculty alike to be aware of their surroundings at all times. They will do everything they can to serve and protect Fullerton College students in light of this situation.
This epidemic has affected the professional clown business, making it more difficult for them to perform without receiving backlash.
Entertainers feel frustrated and discouraged to go out in public and perform their acts because of their false depictions due to the current events.
The reaction from social media has both parents and children in fear.
Parents have stopped booking clowns for entertainment at birthday parties, and children on social media have now associated clowns not for the fun and amusement, but with violence and terror.
Even one of the largest American corporations has to limit the presence of their most famous mascot.
According to the LA Times, McDonald’s has decided to minimize the appearances of Ronald McDonald at community events throughout the country. The corporation recognizes these sightings and is being considerate due to the “current climate.”
The online magazine Atlas Obscura has even created an interactive map that has tracked and documented clown sightings, threats and scares from all over the United States and the United Kingdom.
Although all signs appear to point to hoax rather than real life terror, with the Halloween season progressing, there seems to be no stopping the clowns out and about in town.