A wave of creepy-clown sightings that began in South Carolina last month has washed into the Hudson Valley with multiple sightings reported in recent days. But Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra isn’t quite ready to deploy the clown control task force.
“Somebody whipped this up, excuse the pun, just to clown around,” said Sinagra.
Since August, when a group of children near a South Carolina housing complex reported clowns trying to lure them into the woods, there have been hundreds of reported clown sightings across the Eastern U.S. Clowns are reported peeking through windows, loitering under streetlights or peering out of bushes. In virtually all cases, when police arrive, there are no clowns to be found. But the hysteria has led to everything from school lockdowns to the arrest of innocent clowns engaged in legitimate clowning.
In Saugerties, Sinagra said, there had been at least three clown sightings reported to local police. Most recently, Thursday afternoon just before 5 p.m., someone called to report multiple subjects in clown gear hanging around St. Mary of the Snow Cemetery in Barclay Heights. When police arrived, there were no clowns. Several people interviewed in the investigation said that they had seen no clowns or other unusual activity. Sinagra said that he believed the clown sightings were being driven by Internet memes and videos and clown reports from other states.
“It’s something that’s going around on the Internet,” said Sinagra. “You’re seeing these kinds of reports in a number of places around the country.”
Professional clown Gary Johnson of Highland-based “Clowns R Us” said he was taking the creepy-clown hysteria in stride, despite the proliferation of internet memes advocating a shoot-on-sight policy for Bozos.
“I was just talking about this with my wife the other day, I’m not worried, because all of the police around here know us,” said Johnson who’s been clowning for 20 years. “But it got me thinking because when we’re driving around working, especially on the weekends, we’re clowns.”