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  • Julia Soulsby

Clowndemic: The 2016 Clown Sightings Phenomenon

Sometimes I go back to reflect on my life and amongst the memories of childhood friends and life-altering realizations I stumble upon something that makes me audibly say “What the hell even was that?” The other day I was walking around campus (as one does) and thinking about the past when I remembered a long-lost sub-plot to our lives that everyone just seemed to conveniently forget about. The 2016 clown sightings were a trip to say the least. Businesses were closing early, schools were shutting down after school programs and the general atmosphere of the world was chilling. People were actually scared to leave their homes. I must say, 2016 is kind of a blur, but the clown sightings will be stuck in my mind forever.


In short, the 2016 clown sightings were a series of reports of “creepy clowns” congregating in public areas like forests and schools. Most of the time they didn’t do anything besides stand around and be scary, but after a certain amount of hype, they started getting mildly violent. Violent enough to the point where costume stores were banned from selling clown suits in certain areas and some school districts banned clown cos

What is the threshold for which we should believe these people? How many of these clown sightings were real and how many of them were 14-year-olds trying to get the attention they were lacking from their family and peers? I think questions like these are why the whole situation is surreal. Nobody actively thinks about the clown sightings anymore, but if you bring them up to anyone who was around during that time, everyone will know exactly what you’re talking about. The whole world collectively agrees that 2016 was not a real year, and not just because of the clown incidents. The death of Harambe the gorilla, Donald Trump being elected President, that child that got killed by an alligator at Disney and a disgustingly long list of other tragic events that occurred in 2016 made the year feel imaginary. The funny thing about the whole situation is that the entire world just collectively agrees to not acknowledge that the year happened to begin with.


Like many things, it seems to be a reasonable response to blame Stephen King for this whole debacle. King’s novel It, which was released in 1986, stirred up quite a storm at the time and clearly had a major impact on pop culture from that moment on because up until that point, clowns were silly and whimsical.

Bags the clown holding balloons
Gags the clown

Moral of the story, 2016 is a year that deserves to be remembered in a special way. Next time you are reminiscing on the past, remind yourself of how messed up and foul the year 2016 was, and then find solace in the fact that we aren’t living through a literal clown epidemic anymore. Yeah, maybe we are on the brink of a major world war, and we are currently two years into a deadly pandemic that doesn’t seem to ever be going away, but at least there aren’t clowns on the streets.


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