Hal­loween clowns more trick than treat for US kid­dos

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

MAYBE it’s bet­ter to leave the clown cos­tume in the closet tonight.

Hys­te­ria sweep­ing the United States after a se­ries of “creepy clown” sight­ings in re­cent weeks has cre­ated an un­wel­come scare this October 31 when Amer­i­cans will cel­e­brate all things ghoul­ish, sin­is­ter and fan­tas­ti­cal.

Though no clowns have been spot­ted in Myan­mar, it’s an alarm­ing trend in the US, where Hal­loween cos­tumes are at their most con­vinc­ing.

The Hal­loween hol­i­day sees mil­lions of Amer­i­can chil­dren don cos­tumes and go house-to-house trick-or-treat­ing in neigh­bor­hoods across the coun­try.

But cities and law en­force­ment are dis­cour­ag­ing or even ban­ning clown cos­tumes this year after sight­ings of sin­is­ter clowns, some armed with knives.

Au­thor­i­ties fear the bizarre trend could pro­voke a nasty back­lash when chil­dren turn out Mon­day night.

The un­usual sight­ings be­gan in Au­gust with re­ports of peo­ple in South Carolina dressed as clowns try­ing to lure chil­dren into the woods.

The ap­pear­ances soon spread with more than 20 states now having re­ported clown in­ci­dents, and al­though most were pranks in bad taste or un­ver­i­fied threats, some ar­rests have been made, in­clud­ing for at­tacks.

The craze has even spread be­yond the United States to Europe, South Amer­ica and Aus­tralia.

The hys­te­ria has had sur­pris­ing reper­cus­sions for many, such as Ar­mando San­tana, a 22-year-old ac­tor who per­forms as a scary clown in a pop­u­lar Mi­ami hor­ror house.

He says he would no longer dream of leav­ing his job without ditch­ing the cos­tume.

“It means that by the end of the night I have to wash my face. I can’t drive my car with this on, just in case I get stopped,” he said, emit­ting a clas­sic men­ac­ing chuckle.

Even a build­ing in Mi­ami Beach warned its res­i­dents ahead of the Hal­loween door-knock­ing: “You must be ex­tra care­ful with any­one wear­ing clown masks.”

Burger chain McDon­ald’s mean­while has scaled back pub­lic ap­pear­ances of its fa­mous smi­ley­faced clown mas­cot Ron­ald McDon­ald, cit­ing “the cur­rent cli­mate around clown sight­ings”.

And dis­count re­tail chain Tar­get halted the sale of clown masks be­cause of “the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment”, said spokesper­son Joshua Thomas.

While some ob­servers have made light of the sight­ings, po­lice and other au­thor­i­ties are tak­ing the craze se­ri­ously.

“Did you know that you could be ar­rested for wear­ing a clown mask with the in­tent to dis­turb the peace?” said the Palm Beach County Sher­iff’s Of­fice on Twit­ter this month.

The Mi­ami po­lice re­leased a video that shows a boy, flee­ing a shad­owy clown in the dark, be­ing run over by a car. “Th­ese pranks can have se­ri­ous or even tragic ends,” it con­cludes.

Mi­ami po­lice spokesper­son Yelitza Cedano Her­nan­dez told AFP that, while it is not pro­hib­ited to dress like a clown, “If this prank leaves some­one in­jured, the prankster is go­ing to be ar­rested and the vic­tim’s fam­ily can take the per­son to court.”

In Kem­per County, Mis­sis­sippi, clown gear has been ex­pressly banned un­til after Hal­loween, and au­thor­i­ties will slap a US$150 fine on any vi­o­la­tors.

Mean­while a num­ber of US school dis­tricts – par­tic­u­larly in New Jersey, Con­necti­cut and Colorado – have banned clown cos­tumes in Hal­loween pa­rades.

The same ac­tion was taken by the city of Bel­mont, North Carolina, for its Bel­mont Boo Fes­ti­val last week: No adult clown cos­tumes al­lowed.

“Peo­ple dressed as hor­ror clowns are not ‘real clowns’,” said Randy Chris­tensen, pres­i­dent of the World Clown As­so­ci­a­tion.

“They are tak­ing some­thing in­no­cent and whole­some and per­vert­ing it to cre­ate fear in their au­di­ence,” he said in a state­ment.

But some ben­e­fit when there’s a buzz.

Staff at the Hal­loween Me­ga­s­tore in Mi­ami said that clown masks, along with su­per­heroes from the film Sui­cide Squad and the US pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, are hot sell­ers this sea­son.

And Nel­son Al­bareda, pro­ducer of the House of Hor­ror Haunted Car­ni­val in Mi­ami, which has an en­tire sec­tion ded­i­cated to sin­is­ter clowns, wel­comes the phe­nom­e­non.

“I’ve been in the Hal­loween in­dus­try for 16 years and a lot of peo­ple have a pho­bia on clowns, so this is noth­ing new to us,” he told AFP, while walk­ing the haunted house’s dusty pas­sage­ways.

“Now there’s a lot of hoopla about clowns, even on so­cial me­dia. It’s ac­tu­ally bet­ter for us.” –

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