Notts fancy dress shop 'may pull clown masks' over scary craze
A Mansfield costume shop says it may take down a 'killer clown' Halloween display so pranksters can't take advantage.
It was the week the entire nation was taken over by a terrifying craze.
Allegedly inspired by a PR stunt to promote a horror film, pranksters have been donning clown costumes and wondering around town centres, standing on street corners to scare drivers and jumping out at people to shock them.
Incidents have led to injuries and some arrests – and in Mansfield there have been a number of sightings of ‘killer clowns’ - dressed in costume at the dead of night and some even brandishing weapons.
In Warsop, a young by was chased over half a mile by a man in a clown mask, prompting his mum to issue a warning to other parents about the ‘latest craze’.
Helen Evans said: “My youngest son was out this afternoon (Monday) and was followed by a man in a clown mask.
“He noticed this guy following him, started running and the guy sped up. Luckily my child escape to his friend’s home and got a lift home.”
She said the man in a clown mask chased her son all the way from The Carrs, in Church Warsop, through a skate park and into the village - leaving the boy terrified until he got to safety.
Helen added: “Don’t go out alone, or let your children out alone. Protect the ones you love and hopefully the people doing this will be caught and stopped soon.”
There have been a number of other alleged sightings of people dressed as clowns, in Kirkby’s Nuncargate Road, woods n Annesley, and in estates at Ladybrook and Shirebrook.
One image was taken of a ‘killer clown’ standing on a street corner at Farm Croft Road, Mansfield Woodhouse.
Mansfield district commander, Inspector Nick Butler, advised people not to participate in the craze.
He said: “It’s causing real anxiety, particularly among young people, and it’s not funny.”
Police said no report was made about the young boy being chased in Church Warsop, but there was on innocuous report of a clown seen in Netherfield Lane.
A spokesman said: “At 8.20pm yesterday (October 11) we received a report of a man in a clown outfit walking along the street. There was no offence involved and no suggestion that he had actually done anything – he just happened to be wearing a clown outfit.”
Officers have declined to offer guidance to the public, other than to report any incident they believe is a crime. Some clown encounters around the country have been treated as harassment and public order offences.
The ‘killer clown’ craze swept the country over the week, following a similar spate of incidents in the US, believed to be inspired by a PR stunt either to promote the remake of the Stephen King film ‘It’, or the soon to be released horror movie ‘The Clown’.
Elsewhere, Thames Valley Police dealt with 14 incidents in a 24-hours period, and the Metropolitan Police arrested a student at Brunel University, dressed as a clown and wielding a chainsaw.
Another incident in London saw a schoolgirl chased down the street by a ‘killer clown’ wielding a knife.
Craze reminds of spooky ‘Mansfield Clown’
This is not the first time Notts has been swept by fears of a scary clown. An image, shown above of the ‘Mansfield Clown’, emerged on Facebook in 2013, mysteriously posted by an anonymous source, and leading to an appreciation page with more than 20,000 fans. Numerous other sightings were subsequently recorded around the county, and were eventually linked to the movements of a travelling circus. The Mansfield Clown Facebook group now only has 23 members.
‘We’re not cashing in on killer clown terror’
We asked fancy dress shops around Mansfield and Ashfield if they had seen a rise in sales of clown merchandise, and strangely none had.
Ellie Pheasant, assistant at Oodles Fancy Dress shop in Chesterfield Road, Mansfield, said the craze was ‘spoiling the whole spirit of Halloween’ before it’s even come.
She said: “Why would people dress up like that and scare people when it’s not Halloween? Some people do have a genuine phobia of clowns, and terrifying the older community – it’s unacceptable
“I know people that are so scared by this they don’t want to leave the house.
“We’re debating about whether to take it down because of what’s happening. We’re on the fence because we don’t want to risk people taking advantage.”
Annabelle Ward, director of Oodles, agreed that the shop doesn’t condone what’s going on around the country in the past weeks.
She said: “We wouldn’t take away the fun from people that are dressing up at Halloween, but we don’t want people to think we’re cashing in on this.
“It was our aim to have a killer clown display for Halloween and some of our masks are fantastic but with all this happening we’ve started to think, is this something we shouldn’t do anymore.
“Going out and scaring vulnerable people out of their wits isn’t what Halloween is about. Halloween is getting bigger, it’s a fun-filled time that embraces the spooky, but frightening people that don’t want to be scared is what we don’t condone.”
Sue Crook, owner of Party Galore in Outram Street, Sutton, said she had sold a few clown masks in the past few weeks, but she suspected most people would be buying them on eBay.
She said: “We don’t normally sell a lot of clown masks so it’s only because of the run up to Halloween that they’ve sold.
“They’re twits aren’t they? They could cause a lot of heartache actually. They’ve only got to pick on the wrong person who’s got some illness and they could scare them literally to death.”
Real-life clowns challenge pranksters to ‘take off the mask’
Notts clowns have spoken out against so-called ‘killer clowns’ marginalising the kind characters they perform.
Clowning tutors Angela Schofield and Amanda Hayes at Red Herrings, which runs workshops around the Nottingham area, say the frightening youths in costume spotted scaring people around the country this week, ‘couldn’t be further’ from what clowning is really about.
They said: “It’s obviously a horrible thing that people are doing. These people are hiding behind a mask to do scary things, but for us clowning is more about unveiling ourselves. They’re not really clowns - their intention is to scare people and freak them out and that couldn’t be further from the opposite of what clowning is about.
The history of clowning as an art form has revolved around cultural observation, satire and using physicality to open people up.
Amanda added: “Clowning is about showing all the absurdity of life.
“The clown archetype we work with comes from the European genre – like the Slava Snow Show, which has been to the Royal Centre in Nottingham. Slava is a Russian clown who takes you into different worlds.”
The professional clowns, and ‘clowning facilitators’ offer workshops to all types of people including stage performers, as well as introducing clowning to people as a form of self development, ‘a bit like yoga’ but with comedy.
Angela added: “We do workshops with people who are finding their inner clown, by finding your vulnerabilities and playfulness and that’s how the laughter comes.”
“I wouldn’t want someone to be scared of a clown.
“I would urge these people to take off their masks and stop scaring people - have the courage to show their faces and find their true inner clown.”