An eery figure moves through the night, his pace fast and his determination unmatched. Street lights reflect to show his polka dot jump suit and oversized shoes. The silhouette shades himself in the brush along a motionless sidewalk, waiting for his chance. His job tonight is to scare the life out of unsuspecting victims, to get a sense of excitement at the expense of the target’s well being.

Much of what has recently plagued the news recently is an issue that isn’t necessarily a domestic threat, but does pose a risk to the safety of the general public.

Most have probably heard about the national “creepy clown” epidemic. A quick google search presents several accounts, real and fake, about anonymous individuals waltzing through small towns in clown costumes. Some call it an internet hoax, others call it a growing issue.

Sightings reportedly began in August of this year, and one student has an outspoken opinion about it:

“Clowns are some people’s worst fear”, says Nicholas Dawyvida. “Cult followings like this have happened for years, this became popular because of copycats. It might be connected to the news because the more coverage the story gets, the more it happens throughout the country.”

A handful of interviewees refused to answer any questions, shaking their heads in disgust.

No one knows why or how this all started. The internet connects the world at the click of a button, so information about any sightings is immediately noted. The question is, can this just be a fad to keep people on their toes, or is it a real conspiracy that we have yet to uncover?

So far, there hasn’t been any evidence of this being more than a new creepypasta coming to life. The illusion has spread to colleges throughout the country: Time News reported that a mob frenzy of thousands began at Penn State.

CBS Chicago and the Boston Herald have reported that classes at many schools like Merrimack and Eureka College have been cancelled due to threats of an appearance.

There are many false allegations in cases by those who have encountered the red-nosed devils, so no one can confirm that every appearance has been violent - if they have even occurred.

NJ.com stated that a 14 year old girl from Toms River, NJ, falsely proclaimed an attack from a knife-wielding figure. Another 12-year-old girl from the same town, created an anonymous clown Instagram account to threaten her middle school. Fabricated evidence along with the obscure nature of these encounters creates an atmosphere for some to still feel threatened.

“If someone has a mask in the dark, who’s to say that their intentions mean well?”

Janelie Cabral asked. “When I hear about them getting attacked by their victims I hope they learn their lesson!”

In Fairlawn, NJ, local police stopped several reckless teens in a Toyota Tundra with the discovery of masks and marijuana in the vehicle. This may have looked like a fun night out with some friends, but because of the unknown mystery, the town is on edge. As stated on northjersey.com, two of the young men were issued summons for marijuana and reckless driving.

The use of social media hasn’t helped the average user feel safe because of how fast information travels and the spread of this supposed hoax has reached local cities. Many unreported sightings have been rumored in Bayonne, Newark, Kearny, and even parts of Jersey City.

“My mom called me and told me not to go outside at night once these stories caught attention. I know that I probably shouldn’t be scared but I can’t help it,” said Hannah Jabda.

What has come of this hoax is an unsettling environment for people who are already scared of clowns, and those who don’t see the humor in potentially harming others. The end to this practical joke is unclear, but America will see on Halloween when the costume is socially acceptable.

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