By AKANKSHA SAH
As Halloween approached last month, people all across the country started getting ready, putting up decorations, buying candy, and preparing costumes, all waiting for the 31st to arrive.
Some people, however, decided to put their costumes to use a bit early; since early October, someone by the name of “Wasco Clown,” has been dressing up as a clown at night and visiting local landmarks in California towns including Bakersfield, Delano, and Wasco, taking pictures of himself and posting them on Instagram. The original Wasco Clown has inspired multiple “copycats” who are now dressing up themselves and also walking around in an attempt to scare people.
Wasco Clown’s Instagram posts seem to have a common theme connecting them all together: they are all taken at night, and most feature him holding a bunch of balloons. In one post, he is pictured standing in a park, and the caption says, “Come play with me.” In another, he is pictured hanging onto a streetlamp saying, “Come find me and I’ll give you a balloon.”
People following his updates on Instagram have had mixed reactions. Some, like @themarshpit, who tweeted: “I’m more afraid of the #wascoclown than I am Ebola,” have spoken of their fears of the clowns, while others, like tiffanysheilaa, who replied to one of Wasco Clown’s posts with the following message on Instagram: “Come to Indiana and I’ll get a balloon from you,” have requested visits to their respective hometowns.
At Uni, this story has been received with a variety of reactions, some students calling the clowns downright creepy, others deciding that the story is rather amusing. expressed his opinions on clowns in general, defending their cause:
“In my opinion, clowns are a misunderstood people. The overuse of stereotypes of clowns as being evil or psychotic killers makes it so that people fear them based on myth. The whole purpose of being a clown is to bring joy to children, but media has ruined the whole line of profession. These people were a once loved part of society; however, they are now shunned and feared because someone wanted to think of them as crazy killers. I myself fear clowns for the same reasons.”
When asked about how she felt about the relative safety of having these clowns milling about cities at night, Shivani Lamba (So.) replied, “For the pictures he posted before Halloween, I think it was an entertaining way to get into the Halloween spirit, since the clowns were just standing around. Their mere presence is not dangerous, but they would be a threat if they began committing violent acts.” Since Wasco Clown has not shown himself to be particularly dangerous, Lamba said that if she lived in Wasco or one of the cities the clowns visited, she would not be afraid so much as creeped out. “Maybe I’d throw an eraser at it,” Lamba joked, when asked what she would do if faced by one of the clowns.
While none of the clowns has proven to be openly violent or outright dangerous, a fourteen year old boy was arrested and booked into juvenile hall for dressing as a clown and chasing children in an attempt to frighten them. (bakersfieldnow.com) In response to this arrest, Wasco Clown posted an image of himself on Instagram with a caption saying, “It’s funny you guys think I got arrested.”
A Facebook page under the name “Wasco Clown” that claims to be run by the original Wasco Clown states that the whole thing is merely a project that a man is doing for his wife, and that they never intended for it to receive as much attention as it has been garnering. He claims that he is not armed or dangerous and warns copycats to be safe and not harm anyone. While most reported sightings have not included any weapons in their descriptions, clowns have been seen holding various objects, including a baseball bat and a machete. Fortunately, none of the clowns has displayed any real violence, and the boy who was arrested was unarmed.
For now, the leaders of the police forces in the affected towns have decided to keep this matter small and only interfere if the posts or sightings become more violent or threatening. As for the clowns wielding machetes or other weapons, police say that they will be arrested if sighted again, whether or not the weapons are fake. As long as the clowns remain peaceful, the clowns will likely be seen as pranksters trying to give people a Halloween thrill. As Halloween came and passed and Wasco Clown’s posts did not stop, however, the affected towns’ residents’ unease over the subject grew, and most will be relieved once the nighttime visits stop.