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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Clown sightings terrify the United States

Clown sightings terrify the United States

Since the beginning of their existence, clowns have been the source of many children’s as well as some adults’ nightmares. To some people, just the thought of a man wearing a red, curly wig, lots of white powder and an insanely big red smile is enough to make them go back to their five-year-old self.

However, there was never a chance a clown could actually come after them while they slept or walked down a dark street until now.

According to CBS News, late on Aug. 21, a woman reported that her son had seen a clown figure in the woods making strange noises in Greenville, South Carolina. It was also described that the clown was trying to lure children into the woods.

The Greenville City Police Department released a statement on Sept. 1 about the case.

“The Greenville Police Department has answered four calls related to clowns within the City of Greenville,” it said. “In each of the four, … there has been no indication of any attempt to contact or lure children into the woods.”

From that point on, similar cases appeared in other places in the United States such as Georgia, Alabama, New York and the Triad area.

The Greensboro Police released a statement on Sept. 6, explaining that a “local witness reported that a person wearing a scary clown mask, … yellow dotted shirt … and clown shoes exited the woods by The Park at Old Oak Ridge.”

Again, none of these incidents have led to a person disappearing or being harmed, which is why authorities are not alarmed.

“In the situations that have been reported, none have been confirmed,” said former Asheville Chief of Police and current Director of Public Safety William Anderson. “At this point, we shouldn’t be concerned more than on any other day or with any other type of situation.”

If there is no reason to fear, the question remains: why are clowns still so terrifying to some people?

“I think that it shows us a lot about our current cultural state of fear,” said Heather Hayton, professor of English.

“Clowns are creepy and have been considered creepy in our horror movies for a long time, so it doesn’t surprise me that there is a kind of hysteria surrounding it. … We can learn a lot from watching it happen this time.”

The police have not, however, found a reason for why some individuals are dressing as clowns and walking around cornfields and woods in some places.

“I really don’t trust humanity that much,” said CCE senior Jeff Ray. “As far as I’m concerned, clowns are weird. Clowns are eerie. You can’t tell what they’re thinking because they have that big smile painted on their faces.”

However, a part of this fear might have a reason to exist.

“Stories of clowns actively seeking to harm children go back to stories that circulated on the South Side of Chicago in the early 90s,” said author and Professor of History at the College of Charleston W. Scott Poole. “Children, mostly African-American, claimed to see clowns in vans who attempted to pick them up. No child was ever harmed, and no sighting was ever confirmed.”

Since an upcoming remake of Stephen King’s horror movie “It” is releasing in theaters next year, some wonder if these clowns could be the result of the movie’s pre-cinema advertising, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

“These rumor legends are often a way for people to talk about other kinds of personal and social anxieties,” said Poole. “Creating a literal monster displaces the horror of everyday life.”

Whether the clowns are making their way to Guilford College or not, Public Safety has a plan.

“The approach we have taken here at Guilford is just to make sure we’re aware of it,” said Anderson. “(We are also) making sure that we have a good communication with the Greensboro Police Department.

“We encourage all of our students to be vigilant. Walk in pairs or groups, the typical safety things that you would do every single day across campus.”

If any student has information about clown sightings on campus, they should contact Public Safety immediately at 336-316-2908.

Until then, people should stay alert. After all:

“There’s never anything positive about being lured to a cornfield,” said Ray.

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About the Contributor
Beatriz Caldas, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Beatriz's goal is to make sure that every person on campus has a voice, that every group is being represented, and that The Guilfordian becomes #1 in reporting Social Justice stories not only from Guilford, but from all around the globe. Beatriz comes from Brazil and is able to speak four languages.

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    LeahOct 7, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Everyone at my daughters school was terrified of these clowns because they thought that the clowns were going to go to their school and hurt them. Then everyone figured out that it was a hoax.