Of all the weird creatures and phenomena out there, I’ve always been more interested in things like Bigfoot, Mothman, the Dover Demon, Goatman, and the like, versus things like mad gassers and phantom clowns. I think they are interesting phenomena, but I’m just not fully convinced that there is anything paranormal or supernatural about them. But they have always been on my radar, as one of my favorite authors, Loren Coleman, covers them in a lot of his books. And it was one of Mr. Coleman’s recent tweets that alerted me to this story, of an alleged phantom clown being spotted in England.
It’s not Halloween season until a creepy mysterious clown frightens an entire British town.
A spooky clown, dressed in white face paint with huge drawn-on eyebrows, a curly red wig and a ruffled collar — and looking exactly like Pennywise clown from the Stephen King-inspired 1990 horror film, “IT” — has appeared in several locations throughout Northampton, England since Friday, Sept. 13. The city, some 67 miles outside of London, is an industrial town known historically for its shoemakers and churches.
Why the clown is there and what he or she is doing has baffled local residents and social media users around the world. Thousands of people have been following the story on Twitter since the sightings began, using the hashtag #northamptonclown.
— Joe (@jogo78) September 13, 2013
Images of the clown have scattered the Internet, giving credence to the legend of the creepy character.
New picture of the Northampton Clown from last night. This is getting reeealll creepy pic.twitter.com/rh1otkI38L
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) September 16, 2013
The music competition TV show “X Factor” even got involved with the story, tweeting about the clown to its nearly four million followers.
We’ll be honest… we’re actually watching the repeat for any signs of the #northamptonclown. *shivers*
— The X Factor (@TheXFactor) September 15, 2013
While some speculate that the whole thing may be a PR stunt, the clown seen standing on empty streets, holding balloons and a teddy bear and waving, has caused serious concern among Northampton residents.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police told The Northampton Chronicle that they had received three calls over the weekend related to people being dressed as clowns. Adding to the confusion is speculation that there may be more than one clown.
The police department issued a warning for the town after a female resident reported on Friday seeing two teenagers who looked like they were dressed as clowns and were acting suspiciously.
So far, there have been no clown arrests, according to the department’s twitter page.
1/5 Regarding #NorthamptonClown, we can confirm that we have neither arrested nor dealt with any crimes involving anyone dressed as a clown.
— Northants Police (@NorthantsPolice) September 16, 2013
A person purporting to the be clown on a Facebook fan page called Spot Northampton’s Clown, which has garnered over 30,000 likes, has denied claims that the clown was knocking on doors in the middle of the night.
“I ‘haven’t’ been knocking on houses and asking to paint window sills,” the clown wrote on Monday. “If what i am doing does get too much for people, I will have to stop.”
The person claiming to be the clown also said he or she was not a part of a publicity stunt for the town’s annual haunted house attraction called Dr. Fright’s Night.
“I’m also ‘not’ apart [sic] of Dr Fright’s Night for those interested,” the person wrote. “But it seems to be promoting them and others which is great!”
The purported clown also denied being part of a YouTube mockumentary about a “local clown.” The video showed a similar looking clown at locations around Northampton.
In a bizarre, movie-like turn of events, the creepy clown has now inspired its own clown catching superhero. Dubbed The Clown Catcher, a local citizen dressed as Superman has taken to protecting Northampton from its latest mystery villain.
What’s your theory as to why the clown is appearing? Think this new hero has a shot at catching the Northampton Clown?
— Daniel Owens (@DanielOwens1979) September 15, 2013
In all likelihood, this is just a promotional stunt or a prankster (or a group of pranksters). And honestly, just because people don’t know where these clowns came from does not necessarily make them paranormal. If you want to know more about phantom clowns, however, I strongly suggest picking up a copy of Loren Coleman’s Mysterious America. Chapter 21 is all about phantom clowns.