Miles Howell:

‘‘They float, Georgie, and when you’re down here with me, you’ll float, too –‘’

So said Pennywise the Dancing Clown when he killed Georgie Denbrough in Stephen King’s 1986 novel ‘It’. That book and its 1990 television adaptation with Tim Curry in the titular role helped install coulrophobia, a fear of clowns, in a generation of children. But it seems that some modern day pranksters are now following Pennywise’s example with the results being anything but funny.

Reports have spread from both sides of the Atlantic of people dressed in creepy clown costumes and scaring people in public. Although this phenomenon is not new with alleged sightings stretching back decades, this year seems to have had an epidemic of clown related pranks with Halloween fast approaching. The sightings seem to have started in South Carolina where clowns were reported to be lurking in the woods and trying to lure in children.

More sightings spread throughout the United States with schools being shut and even the White House being asked for its stance on the issue. It seems the initial reports have inspired copycats here in the United Kingdom with one notable example of a clown apparently wielding a knife or machete, although one report said it was made of plastic, following schoolchildren in County Durham. Another report is of a man being cautioned after a woman had a clown jump out and scream at her at night time while walking in Eaton Park in Norwich.

Professional clown organisations have expressed their dismay at the recent trend which threatens to tarnish their image and who stress that these pranksters are not real clowns. One unexpected supporter of the PR side of the clown industry is Stephen King who recently tweeted ‘’Hey, guys, time to cool down the clown hysteria – most of em are good, cheer up the kiddies, make people laugh’’. Clowns may have a long way to go to be seen as fun-loving comedians after several well-known media portrayals of them as monstrous such as the above mentioned Pennywise, the Joker from the Batman comics and the clown doll in the 1982 film ‘Poltergeist’.

These pranksters may find what they are doing is amusing but it can be highly distressing for those targeted, especially if they are children or the clown is wielding a weapon, real or fake. They also divert from the police valuable time that could be spent elsewhere. These sightings may be a hot topic now but will probably stop soon after Halloween with anybody afterwards dressing as a clown to scare people realising that the joke is on them.

Ellesse Cooke:

Shock horror folks; the killer clowns are on the loose. First they hit the States, now they’re making their way through Kent. Oh what could possibly plague our times more than random people in masks you can buy for a pound at Wilkinson’s? Does the human race have any humanity left? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; first we must look to where this epidemic of terror began.

Greenville, South Carolina. August 2016. A woman informed the police that her son had seen clowns in the woods and they were making “strange noises”. As the months rolled by, the completely non-threatening threat grew, reaching a further 20 states. I asked a dear friend of mine, currently living in the states about his concerns. He had this to say:

“I mean I haven’t seen a clown yet but apparently they are near me.”

Chilling. And when asked if he felt scared for his life, he uttered the following:

“Yes, I legit sprint in heels to walk from grandma’s house to home.”

The fear is undeniable but Is that all? Oh if only. Before this shocking epidemic reached our own dear country, it breached the one remaining pure, unsullied land – Canada.

But now the epidemic has reached the motherland and I imagine hope is plummeting within the sweet town of Canterbury as we speak. What are my thoughts on the matter? This is the one true threat facing our world today. Put not your fear in the muggers that were just a couple of months ago loitering around Westgate. Put not your fear in the violators, who haven’t been routinely seen for a couple of years but still haunt the odd club, pretending to be nice by offering you a drink you didn’t see get poured. Do not put your fear in actual murderers, that while not particularly common in Canterbury, are more likely not to wear masks so you wouldn’t suspect them until it’s too late. It’s the people in clown masks you have to worry about. For it is only a matter of time before we will all be doomed into a torturous sentence of being creepily stared at by a face with white make up and a red nose. The only option? Fight fire with fire. Buy all the Ghostface masks you can get. We’re going to war.