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Holidays Disrupted by Creepy Clowns

By Margie Kay

Residents of a small English town are on edge due to two mysterious clowns causing chaos throughout the area. It began Sunday, December 19, 2024 when a woman in Ash, England saw the two teens wearing masks with sharp teeth, which left her daughter petrified. Other locals shared their own scary encounters with the clowns and police are now aware of the situation. 

The craze of malicious clowns has become a global phenomenon, with arrests, lockdowns, and bans on costumes. Professional clowns have expressed their concern about the artform's reputation and McDonald's has limited Ronald McDonald's public appearances. 

Steven King's 1986 horror novel "It" in which Pennywise, the killer clown, no doubt had an influence in popular culture. When things began to get out of control, King said about the creepy clown trend: "Time to cool down the clown hysteria - most of 'em are good. Cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh." 

In 2016 a surge in creepy clown sightings occurred across the U.S. and Atlas Obscura posted a map of 100 sightings around the country: The Definitive Map of America’s Creepy Clown Epidemic - Atlas Obscura. We don't know if this map is updated, but there are a lot of sightings posted there. 

In August of 2022 a friend of mine told me she and her husband were scared to death when two creepy clowns appeared on their vacation property at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. She said "We arrived after dark one evening and got out of the car to go into the house. We hadn't been there in weeks, and we were looking forward to having a relaxing weekend. Suddenly, a man wearing very scary clown makeup appeared out of the bushes about 20 feet from the back of the car. He had to have already been on the property before we arrived. I screamed and dropped my groceries and my husband turned to look and saw the guy, too. He freaked out and yelled at the guy, who just stood there menacingly for about 30 seconds. Then a second clown appeared the end of our driveway about 80 feet away. My husband then opened the back hatch on the SUV and got out a tire iron. Then the clowns ran into the bushes and trees and disappeared. We grabbed our stuff and went inside the house. I've never been so scared in my life. We are quite a distance from neighbors, and these guys would have had to walk from wherever they came from because we saw no car on the road." 

The witness said that the clown makeup was very scary, and they had large mouths with rows of pointed teeth painted on their faces. She also said that the clowns looked like grown men, not teenagers or kids. The question is, why would someone go to that much trouble in the middle of a sparsely populated area, not knowing if someone was going to be there or not? 

The clown archetype has been around for thousands of years, from the Archimimus in Rome, to the Cherokee Booger Dance. Some believe the archetype of the 'killer clown' began with the arrest of John Wayne Gacy in 1978, while others point to Ruggero Leoncavallo's 1892 opera Pagliacci, in which the clown murders his cheating wife on stage. Charles Dickens was asked to edit Grimaldi's memoirs, which highlighted the clown's balance of laughter and misery. The idea that clowns are meant to be harmless is not an old one, as there is an ambiguity to their character which can be both funny and evil.

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