RETURN OF THE PHANTOM CLOWNS (WEIRD BUT TRUE)
by S.M. Belekurov
As the name suggests, and it catches our attention right away for that very reason, these are clowns who show up, usually interact with children, and then disappear without a trace. In Coleman’s highly enjoyable “Mysterious America,” he reminds us that the Pied Piper of Hamelin tale likely has some basis in reality. The tale concerns a piper named Bunting, whose multi-colored clothing evokes the mental image of a clown. He dispensed with the rats of Hamelin, which were overrunning the town and posed a significant danger in that they were the primary carriers of the plague. The plague was certain death, and the Piper’s “melancholy” tune lured the rats into the Weser River. The town’s people reneged on payment, and on June 24 (a day that still has one of the highest volumes of strangeness throughout the year) he enchanted their children. They followed him to a nearby cave where they were lost forever.
The astute Coleman noticed and recorded the Phantom Clown flap of 1981. It was extensive, and he documented it excellently. “In the spring of 1981, Boston, MA, appears to have been the new port of entry for a new version of the Pied Piper story.” He tells us of reports logged in May 1981 in which clowns in vans were harassing and trying to entice children to follow them. The reports were discussed openly and in all frankness in “newspapers, by the school committees, the area police and scores of parents and children.”
March of 1981: Mineral point, Wisconsin (FYI locations with Mineral in their name are another of those that seem to attract anomalous activities. Dozens of teenagers spotted what was described as a “phantom” or a “vampire.” The entity was said to be extremely tall, sporting a cape or overcoat, with a pale complexion. If these witnesses seem suspect to you (don’t trust anyone under 30!) then perhaps the sighting by Police Officer Jon Pepper would garner credibility. He reported seeing “a huge person with a white-painted face.”
May 5, 1981: The City of Brookline: Two clown men tried to lure children into their van with candy. The police received “a good description of the van.” It was an “older model, black with ladders on the side, a broken tail-light and no hub-caps.” They were most often sighted in close proximity to schools. In “Mysterious America” Coleman cites a report that said on “May 6, 1981, the Boston police, responding to persistent complaints, warned that men in clown suits were harassing elementary school children.”
One was spotted in Franklin Park and the in Jamaican Plain neighborhood of Boston, near a school. Moving in a definite pattern/flap expansion “By May 8, reports of clown men harassing children had come in from East Boston, Charleston, Cambridge, Canton, Randolph and other cities near Boston.” Since the children reporting the clowns were mostly between 5 and 7 years of age, the stories were officially discounted. Fifty miles away in Providence, RI, “reports of clown men disturbing children were coming to the attention of psychiatric social workers counseling the city’s youth.”
May 15, 1981: Kansas school children said a Samurai clown chased them from school and demanded they get in his van. Previously, around 8:30 a.m., a mom watched a yellow van approach her kids as they walked to a school bus stop. The children told their mother that “a man dressed as a clown and carrying a knife had ordered them inside. By noon the police had received dozens of similar reports-of a clown in a yellow van.” The calls persisted until 5 p.m. Soon the press was labeling these incidents as “group hysteria” even though firsthand reports were being filed as far away as Omaha, NE, and Denver, CO, and many were witnessed by adults or adolescents, not just children.
May 22, 1981: Police on the Missouri side of the Missouri/Kansas border raced around Kansas City chasing a knife-wielding clown in a yellow van, seen at six different elementary schools throughout the city.
June 1981: In Pittsburgh, PA, two men in clown suit once again in a van, were harassing school children. Even more bizarre were reports of abductors dressed as Spider-Man, the Easter Bunny and gorillas.
I love Coleman’s anecdote that he is always told that the clown aberrations of 1981 were sighted primarily because of the Stephen King book “It,” featuring Pennywise the Clown. Mass hysteria, you know the drill, but there is a problem with this line of reasoning. Coleman explains, “Today people try to kindly inform me that the phantom clown flap of 1981 was just mass hysteria caused by King’s book … even though the first editions of King’s book were not published, until 1986.” He even describes where one of his readers, who is friends with a police officer, got into trouble. This officer was explaining a recent “clown” situation and his friend finished the story for him. The cop believed that his friend knew more than he should and suspected him of involvement in the flap. The individual was only cleared when he showed the officer a copy of Coleman’s book, detailing this phenomenon.
In 1990 and 1991 there was a recurrence of the phantom clowns, even one resembling MY favorite clown … Homey the Clown. There were several sightings. We should mention that Illinois, and specifically Chicago, has a tradition of clowns. John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who also dressed up as a clown, was from here. Of course the most famous clown (besides Ronald McDonald), Bozo, was a daily fixture at WGN, based in Chicago. Now with this base understanding, we look into the most recent outbreak which also occurred in Chicago.
In October 2008 at Wicker Park (Wicker is also a name with occult connotations), a man wearing clown make-up and a wig was using balloons in an effort to lure children into his vehicle. A week later, a man of similar description was spotted on the west side. Other reports came in, a Harrison SVU detective issued a statement saying that the clown sightings were not centralized or concentrated in one area but “multiple sightings of clowns across the city. The man wore a “clown mask or white face paint with tear drops on the cheek.” He was said to be driving a “white or brown van with windows broken out.” These clowns apparently love vans, especially ones with damage on them. You think that if you were an abductor you would probably want to drive a nondescript vehicle and most definitely you would keep it repaired. Otherwise you would be easy to find and/or easy to pull over for a traffic violation. Why were none of these “clowns” brought to justice, in spite of the concentrated searches by law enforcement agencies? I digress.
The tragic and untimely death of Ledger and the tremendous hype around the new Batman flick was deeply resonating in the public’s consciousness. Could this be the source of this recent outbreak? Or could it possibly be that some kind of psychic force, Egregore if you will, attached itself to this city? Could a trickster archetype have manifested in our reality through the element of expectation and belief? Oh yeah, did we forget to mention besides all the other coincidences surrounding “The Dark Knight” (See movie curses post) and clown consciousness, that Chicago, the starting point of our recent phantom clown outbreak, was also the city were the majority of the film was shot? “The Dark Knight” was filmed in Chicago.
About The Author: S.M. Belekurov is a Field Investigator, Paranormal Profiler, and author of “2012:The Paranormal Cookbook(Convergence of Reality and the Supernatural)” He is a contributing author to “Paranormal Underground” magazine, epicparanormal.com, perception9.com,thespiritseekers.org, and is an APA charter member (Cryptozoology).