Thursday, September 29, 2016 - Updated: 9:31 AM
Apparently, creepy clown sightings are real. Sort of.
I don’t remember when I started seeing the accounts on social media. Like most urban legends — and things you find on the internet — the stories were ridiculous. And numerous. Suddenly they were everywhere. Standing silently on the side of the road. Lurking at the edge of a playground. Roving through the woods of Appalachia, as seen by the friend of a friend of a friend.
Conversations about clowns replaced the usual western Kentucky chatter about the weather, UK basketball and dogs. The stories spread too quickly to be sorted out by a mix of common sense and investigation.
And, so far, most of the stories are as fictional as a Stephen King story.
There was the case of multiple youth reporting clowns around Annapolis, Maryland. According to WBAL news out of Baltimore, the children “admitted they made the story up when they were interviewed a second time.”
There were also reports of a clown trying to lure people into the woods near Winston-Salem, N.C. Police reviewed camera footage of the area and found no one matching the clown’s description, according to local news agencies.
Just down the road in Winston-Salem, there was a clown-related arrest. But it wasn’t anyone wearing face paint, just someone with too much time and a phone. The arrest came earlier this month after David Wayne Armstrong, 24, called police “just before 3 a.m. to report suspicious activity by a person dressed in a clown costume in the area.... Armstrong told police that a person dressed as a clown knocked on his window and that he then chased the clown until the person ran into some nearby woods.”
Other accounts have been less harmless, but police have done a good job nipping potentially dangerous problems in the bud. According to the Chicago Tribune, the “sheriff in Escambia County, Ala., last week arrested a 22-year-old woman and two juveniles after Flomaton High School was locked down and searched when students were threatened on “Flomo Klown” and “Shoota Cllown” social media accounts. And in Athens, Georgia, an 11-year-old girl was arrested for taking a knife to school on Friday because she was frightened by social media reports and other rumors that clowns were preparing to attack children.”
Other reports from Georgia and Tennessee seem to have some more validity as — according to police reports — teens have been wearing “clown like” masks and costumes to chase young children around.
In Kentucky, according to the Bowling Green Daily News, the Glasgow Police Department has received two complaints, and the Bowling Green Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Department have responded to clown-related calls in recent weeks.
Police in Middlesboro over the weekend arrested a 20-year-old man for “wearing a mask in a public place” after complaints of a clown in the woods near an apartment complex.
People creating problems for other people. Namely, for police officers who have to take time away from investigating crime to deal with what amounts to red-nosed nuisance complaints.
And that seems to be the recurring theme. There haven’t been any real instances of clowns, just people (mostly kids) dressing up and scaring other people (also mostly kids). Given the strain our public service agencies are under, now may not be the best time for that kind of circus.