Police Capt. Jim Apker is taking this clown thing pretty seriously.
Nobody’s been injured, but two residents have reported separate terrifying encounters with clowns. In both cases, the clowns approached the residents, then ran off into the woods.
“If one person is scared, that’s certainly a concern for our police department,” Apker said. “I think they’re scared because it’s a thing that’s going on.”
Yes, it is. A thing. Reports about creepy crowns have been spreading for weeks, primarily in the South, according to news reports. But are they true?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Sun Herald
Two telephone calls about clown sightings in Oxford have been declared hoaxes, according to a report the Clarion-Ledger published Tuesday.
In Georgia, the Associated Press reported Sept. 15 on the arrests of two people who allegedly called 911 with false reports of clowns in a white van out to abduct school children. Turned out, the van had run out of gas and no clown costumes were in sight. The 911 callers later admitted they fabricated the stories.
They had probably been spending too much time on Facebook, where clown personas and horror stories abound.
“I really and truly wish people would stop using Facebook as their means of reporting and call us,” Gulfport Police Sgt. Damon McDaniel said. “Call us.” (That number is 228-868-5959.)
McDaniel said Gulfport police have had no reports of clowns wandering around neighborhoods, but police have taken four or five calls from residents who want to know if any clowns have been spotted.
People are on edge, he thinks, because of the Lucedale sightings.
And why are people scared of these clowns? Some of the blame may rest with Stephen King, who wrote “It,” the ultimate horror novel about clowns, published in 1986.
Before “It,” it seems, clowns were happy or sad. But scary? Not so much. By the way, “It” is being remade for release in 2017 and the big buildup has already begun on the Internet. So, clown terror apparently will be with us for awhile.
Becca Cook, who attends Gulfport High School, has been keeping close tabs on this clown thing. She even sent a friend request — Accepted! — to a nonthreatening clown on Facebook. Her boyfriend, she said, had a close encounter with clowns Tuesday night as he drove down Washington Avenue.
“He just said, ‘Holy Crap, the clowns.’ There were five of them,” she said. “They were just walking down the road. They’re going to populated areas and just scaring people.”
The Lucedale Police Department hasn’t had any clown sightings reported since those first two.
“Oh, good Lord,” a Lucedale dispatcher told the Sun Herald. “I wish that clown would disappear because he’s a pain in my neck.”
One thing’s for sure, clowns are a lot less popular these days. Just ask Martha Caughey, a volunteer dress maker for her daughter’s Biloxi business, Storybook Birthdays, which provides authentically dressed entertainers for parties and other special occasions.
The business get lots of requests for princesses, superheroes and pirates. They have a clown costume. It’s a very nonthreatening female costume with a polka-dot skirt. But nobody’s requested a clown in the last two years, Caughey said.
Clowns? “We don’t have any and they’re not in Lucedale,” Caughey cracked. “I had to throw that out there.”