Creepy clown fad no laughing matter: clowns 

Parent advisory about 'clown' related threats sparks discussion

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - CLOWNING AROUND A clown-related advisory sent home to parents has people talking, but professional clowns say the viral fad of creepy clowns hurts their profession.
  • File photo
  • CLOWNING AROUND A clown-related advisory sent home to parents has people talking, but professional clowns say the viral fad of creepy clowns hurts their profession.

A Safer Schools Together advisory warning of "clown"-related threats sent home to parents earlier this month may have got people talking, but fear not — an invasion of creepy clowns is not imminent.

"We haven't had any reports (of creepy clown sightings) in the corridor that we're aware of, but we did have parents who had their children asking questions," said Marilyn Caldwell, district principal for the Sea to Sky School District.

"So I think there's an awareness out there because of the media coverage, but we haven't had any specific incidents."

The advisory refers to a recent online trend — or possibly a massive viral marketing stunt — in which people dress up as "creepy" clowns to scare unwitting strangers.

But for real clowns, the fad is no laughing matter.

"You know what? It makes us sad," said B.C. Ambassador for Clowns Canada Amanda O'Leary — a.k.a. Smartee Pants.

"Clowns are the most generous, loving — they look for the fun. But if you're having a bad day, they'll sit with you and just hold your hand. They are the most incredibly supportive people who volunteer enormous amounts of time."

The proliferation of the "creepy clown" trend is damaging to real clowns, O'Leary said, many of whom have theatre backgrounds and take their profession seriously.

"Clowns are — the ones I hang with — are trained," O'Leary said. "They're professional, so they know how to put their makeup on, which is usually what scares the heck out of everyone... most of us are insured, we're professionals.

"That's what makes us great. That's what makes us entertainers, because trust me, you're not born doing this."

Linda Marshall of Whistler Wedding Planners worked as a children's entertainer for 15 years in Whistler.

"What we were doing were the pretty elements of clowning... like you didn't wear facial noses, and in most cases I never even wore a wig," Marshall said.

"They could see our eyes, they could see who we were, they could see our facial expressions when we're that close up with children doing face painting and balloon animals, and it was kind of like you're interacting on the same level. You're being child-like, whereas these clowns are trying to be scary.

"I think it's taking away the child-ness of it all, and the fact that we're there to entertain children."

The advisory is really about helping parents stay ahead of viral trends, Caldwell said.

"Before social media, we would kind of gather data and we'd maybe have a conference call about it, or even have a meeting about it," she said. "We have to be able to respond much more quickly now because of the social media."

Any time a student feels unsafe — for any reason — they should report it to their parents or school, Caldwell said.

There are no bans on clown costumes or anything like this Halloween, but parents and children are reminded to stay safe when out and about.

"Wear reflective clothing, travel in groups or with an adult and report safely back to your parents," Caldwell said.

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