Clown lives matter: ‘Creepy’ hysteria hurting real NJ clowns
Hoax or not, a series of recent "creepy clown" sightings and related threats are no laughing matter for people in New Jersey who clown around for a living.
The disturbing pattern has led some professional clowns to fear for their safety — and the future of their businesses.
"Due to the insane craziness," Rockin' Roxanne's Party Magic Entertainment in Manasquan decided to cease any clown-related business through the end of October.
A Facebook post informed customers that anyone who booked a clown show this month would be upgraded to a different form of entertainment.
Owner Roxanne Talarico said she's worried her professional clowns will be terrorized by the public, or pulled over by the police while traveling to and from the job, and those concerns are not worth the hassle of dealing with dissatisfied customers.
"I don't want any of the people who work for me, or myself, to get hurt just because somebody might be agitated about the clowns," she said.
Adding to a string of online threats and real-life run-ins with costumed troublemakers, Fair Lawn police made a handful of arrests Wednesday morning following a report from a Hawthorne woman who was allegedly being chased by a pickup truck with two people wearing clown masks.
As the incidents piled on in the Garden State, Morris County resident Patti Gonsky, also known as Sprinkles the Clown, started receiving several prank and threatening phone calls on a daily basis. On some calls, Gonsky said, she could hear kids giggling in the background. Others appeared to be more serious, riddled with expletives.
"He said if I come near his family he'll f'ing kill me," Gonsky said of one call from an Ohio number.
To erase her likelihood of being a target on the road, Gonsky said she will no longer apply her makeup before heading out to a job. And for the time being, her husband will accompany her so she's not alone while working.
The recent clown commotion has hit her financially as well. Gonsky estimates her business has slowed down by about 20 percent.
She currently has three events scheduled for the month of October. Typically, this is a busy month for Sprinkles.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.