Clown craze creeps its way into Mukilteo
While some believe the real bozos are running for high office, some creepy clowns have been spotted in Mukilteo within the last week.
The first clown sighting was reported in South Carolina in August, but the eerie phenomenon has spread across the world in recent weeks.
Most of the sightings have been deemed harmless pranks – creepy characters have been spotted standing next to the road or walking in a park in the dark – but some of the more sinister ones have involved men approaching schoolchildren while dressed as clowns.
Mukilteo police have received three 911 calls about creepy clown sightings so far, some of them involving local schools or students. After investigation, all of the cases have been determined to pose no actual threat.
“After looking into these incidents and consulting with our regional law enforcement partners, there has been no credible information that would cause concern for the safety to any of our schools or our students,” said Myron Travis, spokesman for the Mukilteo Police Department.
The phenomenon of pranksters in sinister costumes has been boosted in a big way by a Facebook page that shares photos and videos of the scary sightings.
Though only some have coulrophobia, a fear of clowns, it is very common for others to find them downright creepy.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, explained that clowns get their creepiness because they have a familiar face that is distorted or exaggerated with makeup. Their faces are eerily familiar, but somehow a little bit off.
It doesn’t help that clowns are routinely portrayed as creepy characters in books and movies, most notably Stephen King’s “It.”
The book-turned-TV-miniseries is about a demon who disguises himself as a clown named Pennywise in a bid to exploit the fears of children in small-town America. A movie remake of the 1990 miniseries is set to be released next year.
It’s also probably no coincidence that Halloween is just around the corner. Clown costumes – including the “evil” or “crazy” variety – are readily available in stores.
The first reported clown spotting was Aug. 29 in Greenville, S.C. A caller reported that a man wearing a clown costume was seen lurking around an apartment complex and frightening children.
In Mukilteo, the sightings have been significantly less sinister than others reported in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and beyond.
“The calls have been weird, benign and ambiguous,” Myron said. “These creepy clowns are not making threats, not acting violently, and they’re not harassing anyone – they’re just unnerving.”
On Oct. 4, a student from Olympic View Middle School told the school administration that he had been contacted on social media by a stranger who identified himself as “Oswald the Clown.” Staff immediately notified the school resource officer.
Then, on Oct. 6, a caller reported that he spotted a scary clown in the 10900 block of the Mukilteo Speedway. The subject wearing a clown mask was warned by police.
Another caller reported seeing a creepy clown near Kamiak High School on Oct. 7. When officers arrived, the clown was gone.
“Threats made to our schools of any kind are taken extremely seriously and are thoroughly investigated by our police department,” Interim Police Chief Cheol Kang said. “It is always my highest priority to protect our students and to ensure that they have a safe learning environment.”
Andy Muntz, spokesman for the Mukilteo School District, notified parents on Oct. 4 about creepy clowns. His email explained the phenomenon and what to do if there is an actual threat.
Muntz said national and local media, as well as the social media websites Facebook and Instagram, have focused attention on creepy clowns who are threatening schools and students.
“We have no reason to believe that any of our schools or students are in any danger,” Muntz said.
“We’re not clowning around. Threats made to any of our schools are taken very seriously and are thoroughly investigated by the school and by local law enforcement.”
With these clown spottings, Muntz said, now is the perfect time for parents to talk to their children about the safe use of social media.
“Just as you taught them not to talk to strangers, they also need to know that they shouldn’t follow strangers on social media,” he said. “Teach them to only interact with people that they know.”
Muntz recommends that parents and students report any threats to a school by calling that school or the SafeSchools Alert hotline.
You can leave a phone message or send a text to 425-374-0021, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post a message at http://1438.alert1.us.
If you feel the threat is an emergency needing immediate attention, report it by calling 911.