Last year’s creepy clown wave was one of the strangest news stories of 2016. It all began in Green Bay, Wisconsin when a terrifying figure in full clown regalia appeared on city streets ominously carrying a bunch of black balloons. Social media users soon dubbed the bizarre character “Gags the Clown” and launched Facebook pages in its honor. The popularity of Gags seemed to spur a rash of creepy copycat clowns, some of whom displayed potentially dangerous or criminal behavior. The clown spree became such a widespread phenomenon that the editors of Oxford Dictionaries ranked “coulrophobia” - the fear of clowns - as one of their Words of the Year in 2016.
The clown news seemed to die down at the end of 2016 just as quickly as it began. For months, it’s been all quiet on the clown front. However, a recent sighting in Arizona shows that the creepy clowns are back - and this time they mean business.
According to ABC15 Arizona, several children walking home from school in Glendale were chased by an unidentified individual in a clown mask. More worryingly, the clown reportedly brandished an axe which he held aloft as he chased the terrified children while reportedly screaming “You better run because we are coming after you!”
One of the children named Dominic told reporters that he thought he might die as the mask-wearing madman chased him and his friends with the axe. While the police and the children’s parents initially thought the clown might have simply been a case of overactive imaginations, police recovered the clown mask and axe near the reported sighting.
It’s still unclear just what is behind these creepy clown sightings, but it’s likely a case of bored copycats looking to stir up trouble. If this phenomenon happens to be just some prank or some type of viral ad campaign for the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It, this last one went a little too far. Generating social media buzz as some type of performance art is one thing, but scaring kids with an axe is quite another. But hey - maybe it's just one of the now-unemployed Ringling Bros. clowns looking for work now that the nearly 150-year-old circus has officially shut down. Clowns gotta eat.