In one of the more bizarre news developments this year, unexplained sightings of creepy clown figures are continuing to be reported throughout the United States. What began as one clown’s likely attempt at a promotional stunt has turned into a full-on nationwide phenomenon as more and more witnesses, many of them children, report seeing mysterious clowns lurking in wooded or otherwise poorly-lit areas. Some of America’s top horror writers have chimed in on the sightings as concerned citizens throughout the country wonder what might be behind the appearances.
The sightings began in August 2016 when a clown appeared on the streets of Green Bay, Wisconsin in carrying four black balloons. Pictures of the clown went viral on social media, and netizens even gave the clown a name: “Gags.” Shortly after, clowns were spotted in forested areas throughout the Carolinas attempting to lure children into the woods with candy. Needless to say, police were not amused.
Now, a string of sightings across the nation has police worried that the clown sightings might not be the whims of copycat attention-seekers, but instead might be part of some larger plot to instill fear in a nation not known to be prone to fear (wait that doesn’t sound right...). Just this week, police in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania received several reports of a lone clown walking throughout rural areas across the county. Residents in nearby Westmoreland County reported similar sightings, prompting local police throughout Pennsylvania to issue statements urging the public to remain calm but vigilant.
In Barbourville, Kentucky, similar sightings have been reported this week. Residents there reported seeing three figures dressed as clowns, but police were unable to locate the mystery clowns. Sightings have also been reported in Tennessee, Granite City, Illinois, and southwest Virginia where clowns have been spotted lurking about some residents’ front porches.
After that Virginia sighting, Dickenson County police issued a statement asking the clowns to stop freaking people out:
This agency has received various reports of clowns walking around neighborhoods in the county. It seems like this is happening all over the country and Dickenson County is no exception. To those who feel the need to go out and dress like a clown, we must let you know there are laws that may be violated by doing this.
Are these sightings part of some nationwide attempt at sowing fear and mayhem, or merely a social media prank that has gone viral? Until one of these creepy and elusive clowns is caught (and thoroughly interrogated, naturally), these sightings will remain a mystery.