The citizens of Green Bay, Wisc., have been freaked out in recent days by a clown who’s been wandering city streets late at night.
He’s a creepy looking dude in a dirty costume and white face paint, clutching black balloons in his hands.
Some folks who saw him called the cops. Sorry folks, the police said. We can’t arrest someone just for dressing weird.
Someone thought the clown deserved his own Facebook page, so they set one up for him, nicknaming him Gags, the Green Bay Clown. The page scored more than 12,000 likes in just five days and became a repository for breathless sighting reports and pictures.
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“Everyone we think we have another Gags sighting! This one from Saturday night, time unknown,” said the most recent sighting post.
“The pic was messaged to this page and user provided little details on exact location and time. looking into finding out more. Can anyone else confirm??? Has anyone else seen him?!”
After a while though, with coulrophobia — fear of clowns — hitting fever pitch in the city, people worried about Gags’ safety.
“This is a great idea ... it’ll be hard to keep him from getting hurt though, frightened people can do stupid stuff,” one dude wrote on Facebook.
News of the clown scaring a town flashed around the world — Israel, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France.
Some people wondered whether the sightings had anything to do with the comeback of the murderous Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s “It.” The remake of the 1990 film recently began production.
Entertainment Weekly offered the first glimpse of the new Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard in the role originally played by Tim Curry.
Nah, commented one person on Facebook. It’s “just a person trying to get attention.”
Gags was a publicity stunt, a scare tactic C.J. Guzan thinks has gone too far.
Guzan is an actor in Green Bay who told the city’s ABC 2 that he had auditioned “for a role in this short film that was a horror short film about a clown that went around Green Bay, and this is the first step of their viral marketing.”
To create word-of-mouth, he said, actors were asked to share photos of the scary clown. He decided to go public, though, because it was scaring so many folks.
“It’s getting a little bit scary because people are starting to believe it a little bit more and starting to see some of those unsettling pictures on Facebook — not of the clown — but of people armed and preparing to defend themselves and saying, ‘I can’t go outside because I’m afraid of clowns or whatever,’” he said. “That’s just a little bit too far.”
Guzan told local media the name of the movie’s director, but that person did not respond to calls for comment.
“At the end of the day, he’s done nothing wrong, so for people to post threatening comments or damaging pictures on the internet, we hope that they don’t act on that, and if they do act on that, they will be held accountable for those actions,” Capt. Kevin Warych of the Green Bay police told ABC 7 in Chicago.
The website of the music festival Riot Fest noted that “this isn’t the first time a clown has been spotted wandering around at night in odd places.
“There have been sightings in California, Indiana, New York City, England, France, and Australia. It’s probably nothing to worry about though.
“And there definitely isn’t a clown hiding in your house right now.”