Creepy clowns are threatening to scare the Halloween costume staple from holiday gatherings.
Some Sacramento area schools are discouraging the clown wear for students Monday. Target pulled clown costumes from store shelves across the country. And law enforcement officers are keeping a lookout for creepy clowns who misbehave.
This week, UC Davis police responded to reports of a person dressed as a clown and acting suspiciously – one report said the clown had a knife.
In a note posted on its website, Sacramento Unified School District on Wednesday asked parents to help keep children safe by discouraging costumes tied to scares about social media “creepy clowns.”
“As you’ve probably read, people dressed like creepy clowns have been assaulted in some places across the country,” reads one of the messages on the district’s website. The message warns that school neighbors could call police “if they see someone dressed like a creepy clown headed to a school on Halloween.”
While retailer Target recently decided not to sell clown masks this Halloween, several Sacramento area costume shops will continue to sell clown kits.
At the Sacramento Spirit Halloween store on Fair Oaks Boulevard, an impressive stock of creepy clown clothing sits between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Harley Quinn outfits.
On the shelf were costumes labeled: “Killer Clown,” “Freekshow Mime,” “Killer Jester Kit” and “Killer Clown Shoes.” The store also sells clown cleavers and machetes as well as a “Psycho Jester Cane.”
Officials with the New Jersey-based company declined to speak specifically about the firm’s decision to offer creepy clown costumes.
“We do not encourage or associate with the recent clown sightings, and we don’t comment on ongoing police investigations. But aren’t these crazy times? With clowns terrorizing the streets and a real-life joker running for president, we need Batman to save the day!” said Spirit Halloween spokeswoman Marisa Uzzolino.
Longtime Sacramento costume shop Evangeline’s is keeping clowns on the shelves this Halloween season. Jen Kossmann of Evangeline’s said the business hasn’t seen that clown sales are up or down. Kossmann said Evangeline’s doesn’t track sales of costumes by category, but she has heard more girls for the first time this year are going to be superheroes than princesses.
But at West Sacramento’s I Wannabe Costumes, clowns are banished this year.
“I just packed away my clowns,” said owner Julia Harrington. “I do not want to contribute to chaos in this country.”
She said people who dress up as creepy-looking clowns to scare people “have a real void in their lives.”
“They need something productive to do,” Harrington said.
Gabe Ross, a spokesman for the Sacramento City Unified School District, said the district is strongly discouraging the clown costumes. And in most cases, he said, it’s a moot point because most kids are under a no-mask policy on Halloween anyway.
“We’re aware that there have been incidents throughout the country of people dressed like clowns,” Ross added. Even if the costumes are intended to be lighthearted, people can perceive them as threats, he said, “and there have been safety concerns for those wearing suits.
“We wanted to remind parents and kids that even if they think they’re doing something harmless, we want to avoid any unintended consequences.”
Likewise, Roseville Joint Union High School District Superintendent Ron Severson said school sites advised kids “we are not doing clown attire for Halloween or any other occasion.”
In the San Juan Unified School District, some schools do anticipate students wearing Halloween costumes Monday. But district spokeswoman Raj Rai said those schools have not issued any changes in policies from prior years.
Some administrators at schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District are wary of clown costumes.
District spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton said individual schools make their own decisions about Halloween garb. Five middle schools, she said, have asked their students not to wear clown costumes – or masks of any kind. Two high schools have echoed the no-clown request, she said.
“It’s the current situation,” Pinkerton said. “That could change next year. They could all be wearing clown costumes next year.”
Among people whose clothing isn’t regulated, the question looms: Will the creepy clown hysteria actually prompt more people to don clown costumes this Halloween? Brad Butler of national costume chain Halloween Express – whose website features “our selection of truly fiendish Halloween clowns” – recently told EyeOpener TV that sales of clown masks are up 300 percent from last year.
Sacramento resident Leticia Cervantes said her boyfriend suggested they dress up as a hobo and a clown.
“With everything that is happening ... I didn’t feel comfortable with that,” Cervantes said. “He thought it would be funny.”