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Hysteria sweeping the United States after a series of “creepy clown” sightings in recent weeks has created an unwelcome scare this October 31 when Americans will celebrate all things ghoulish, sinister and fantastical.
The Halloween holiday sees millions of American children don costumes and go house-to-house trick-or-treating in neighborhoods across the country
But cities and law enforcement are discouraging or even banning clown costumes this year after sightings of sinister clowns, some armed with knives.
Authorities fear the bizarre trend could provoke a nasty backlash when children turn out Monday night.
The unusual sightings began in August with reports of people in South Carolina dressed as clowns trying to lure children into the woods.
The appearances soon spread with more than 20 states now having reported clown incidents, and although most were pranks in bad taste or unverified threats, some arrests have been made, including for attacks.
The craze has even spread beyond the United States to Europe, South America and Australia.
The hysteria has had surprising repercussions for many, such as Armando Santana, a 22-year-old actor who performs as a scary clown in a popular Miami horror house.
He says he would no longer dream of leaving his job without ditching the costume.
“It means that by the end of the night I have to wash my face. I can’t drive my car with this on, just in case I get stopped,” he said, emitting a classic menacing chuckle.
Even a building in Miami Beach warned its residents ahead of the Halloween door-knocking: “You must be extra careful with anyone wearing clown masks.”
Burger chain McDonald’s meanwhile has scaled back public appearances of its famous smiley-faced clown mascot Ronald McDonald, citing “the current climate around clown sightings.”
And discount retail chain Target halted the sale of clown masks because of “the current environment,” said spokesman Joshua Thomas.
While some observers have made light of the sightings, police and other authorities are taking the craze seriously.
“Did you know that you could be arrested for wearing a clown mask with the intent to disturb the peace?” warned the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Twitter this month.
The Miami police released a video that shows a boy, fleeing a shadowy clown in the dark, being run over by a car. “These pranks can have serious or even tragic ends,” it concludes.
Miami police spokeswoman Yelitza Cedano Hernandez told AFP that, while it is not prohibited to dress like a clown, “if this prank leaves someone injured, the prankster is going to be arrested and the victim’s family can take the person to court.”
In Kemper County, Mississippi, clown gear has been expressly banned until after Halloween, and authorities will slap a $150 fine on any violators.
Meanwhile a number of US school districts — particularly in New Jersey, Connecticut and Colorado — have banned clown costumes in Halloween parades.
The same action was taken by the city of Belmont, North Carolina, for its Belmont Boo Festival last week: No adult clown costumes allowed.
“People dressed as horror clowns are not ‘real clowns,'” said Randy Christensen, president of the World Clown Association.
“They are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience,” he said in a statement.
But some benefit when there’s a buzz.
Staff at the Halloween Megastore in Miami said that clown masks, along with superheroes from the film “Suicide Squad” and the US presidential candidates, are hot sellers this season.
And Nelson Albareda, producer of the House of Horror Haunted Carnival in Miami, which has an entire section dedicated to sinister clowns, welcomes the phenomenon.
“I’ve been in the Halloween industry for 16 years and a lot of people have a phobia on clowns, so this is nothing new to us,” he told AFP, while walking the haunted house’s dusty passageways. Now there’s a lot of hoopla about clowns, even on social media. It’s actually better for us.”
Unsettling encounters with clowns date back at least as far as 2013’s “Northampton Clown”, with sightings tending to peak in October. But this year has seen the craze intensify greatly.
10 August :Two teenagers, one of whom carrying a two-metre-long chain, intimidate children in a local park in Ottawa, Canada. Police make two arrests but do not bring charges.
30 August: “Creepy clown sightings in South Carolina cause a frenzy,” says a headline in the New York Post. A report filed by the sheriff’s office in Greenville County said children have been telling adults that a group of clowns have been trying to lure them into the cluster of trees.
End of September : More than 20 US states and parts of Canada warn of an escalation in incidents, leading to dozens of arrests, school warnings and police investigations. There are reports of videos being shared online.
29 September : New Line Cinema issues a denial that the wave of clown activity is connected to its remake of Stephen King’s It – the main antagonist of which appears as a homicidal clown.
4 October : After several sightings in the UK, a teenager in Newcastle with a lifelong fear of clowns spoke wrote online that she had been chased down the street by a creepy figure. Megan Bell, a Gateshead College student who lives in Fenham, said: “The ‘clown’ chased me for about 20 seconds. I felt very scared and vulnerable as I was a girl on my own.”
5 October : After a clown jumps from a bush holding a weapon and scaring a cyclist in Eastbourne, local police say they will increase patrols to catch others dressing up.
5–8 October : Members of the public report further sightings in Essex, County Durham Cheshire, North Wales, Dundee, Norwich, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. Police make at least six arrests.
9 October : Chief Superintendent Andy Boyd, of Thames Valley Police, says its force alone had dealt with 14 reports in 24 hours.
11 October : McDonald’s announces that it will be limiting public appearances by its mascot Ronald McDonald while the craze persists.
13 October: In Cumbria, a man dressed as Batman has reportedly vowed to combat any clowns taking part in the prank.
14 October : The Metropolitan Police advise children to call 999 if they spot a scary clown.
15 October : ‘Creepy clown’ armed with a machete threatens schoolgirls in Bury St Edmunds, as clown sightings show no sign of slowing down.
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It’s supposed to be a mythical creature hiding somewhere in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, but has Bigfoot finally been captured on video in Indonesia?
Footage shot in the south-east Asian country appears to show an enormous creature walking upright through a waterfall and rolling green hillside.
While on the somewhat distorted clip it can’t be determined exactly what the creature is, some conspiracy theorists are believing it may finally be the real deal.
The video begins with a wide shot of a stunning Indonesian mountain range. All appears still and quiet until suddenly there’s movement to the left of a waterfall. What looks to be the large Bigfoot emerges out of nowhere, walking in front of the cascading water.
Some believe that judging from the height of the creature in comparison to the waterfall, the video is just one of the hundreds of fakes littered across the internet.
It is unclear when the legend of Bigfoot, also called Sasquatch, was first created, however, most sightings are attributed to being black bears.
Adding to the intrigue over this video, however, is the fact that the large bears are not found in Indonesia.
THIS creepy picture taken on a train used in the Harry Potter movies seems to show a ghostly girl standing in the carriage.
The snap was taken by Micky Vermooch during a 1940s themed party last weekend – and there were NO children on board at the time.
The 63-year-old, who took the photo on his phone, didn’t see anything at the time and was shocked when he looked back at the photos.
Micky said: “I got my mobile phone out and took a few photos of the carriage we were in. Then the train stopped and we got off. I was looking through the pictures when I suddenly saw the photo with this girl on it. I couldn’t believe it. There had been no children in that carriage at all. In fact I didn’t see any children on the train.”
He said: “They’d never seen anything like it. They were shocked. I found an official photographer and said ‘what about this, I’ve just taken it’. He was flabbergasted. He said the light was like a hologram. He couldn’t explain the picture. It’s captured the spirit beautifully. We are all in shock and delight. To capture a spirit like that is phenomenal. I’m over the moon.”
The train, run by North York Moors Historical Railway Trust, travels from Goathland to Grosmont and was used as the Hogwarts Express in the Potter movies.
But Micky believes it was also used in the Second World War, and that his ghostly apparition could be the spirit of a girl who died then.
He said: “I had a feeling she must have died in a bombing or something like that – something to do with that train or the carriage during the war years.
“I feel she died at a young age because of something to do with a wartime activity.
“There were a lot of people in period costume in that carriage.
“Maybe it was the particular time of year that triggered the spirit and brought her back.
A ghost hunter claims she has captured the ‘clearest photo yet’ of the notoriously violent poltergeist known as the Black Monk of Pontefract.
Paranormal investigator Claire Cowell believes she has taken a chilling image showing the arm of the eerie figure in a monk’s robe clutching rosary beads.
She was inside the former home of the Pritchard family at 30 East Drive in Pontefract, West Yorkshire – the site of one of Europe’s most notorious and powerful alleged hauntings.
The family said they were subjected to years of torment by the so-called ‘Black Monk of Pontefract’, who is said to still haunt the building.
Mum-of-four Claire, a researcher for the East Drive Paranormal group, claims her photo is the most definitive proof she and fellow ghost hunters have ever seen of the ghoul.
The 44-year-old, from Pontefract, said: “I have been in 30 East Drive a few times and this particular night the equipment had been active – we had seen marbles being thrown and we kept hearing taps and bangs.
“It was the end of the night, about 11pm, and most of the team had already left – there was only me and two other team members left and we were packing up. The other two were in the living room and I went into the kitchen to get a drink but as I did I heard a tap in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs. “I thought maybe it could have been another marble so with only the kitchen light on behind me I took a photo, but I couldn’t see anything. I was unaware of what I’d captured until I went back into the living room to tell the team. The arm you can see in the photo is not a solid form – it looks like mist and is very strange but you can see the sleeve of a robe hanging down.”
“Everyone has been dying to see what this monk actually looks like – I have never seen such a solid, clear picture as that and may never get something like that again.I just happened to be in the right place at the right time – it’s so exciting.”
Jean and Joe Pritchard moved into 30 East Drive with their two children Phillip, 15, and Diane, 12, in August 1966 and allegedly began experiencing paranormal occurrences almost immediately.
Inexplicable events said to occur at the property included green foam pouring from the taps, objects levitating and being thrown around, photographs being slashed and even family members being slapped and shoved downstairs.
The ghoulish apparition captured in Claire’s photo appears at the bottom of the stairs in the same spot the Black Monk is said to regularly stand – and the same place where Diane was reportedly dragged upstairs by an invisible hand, leaving finger marks on her throat.
Claire said the newly-released image, taken in November last year, was confirmed by current owner of 30 East Drive Bill Bungay to be the best photo he had ever seen of the Black Monk.
The building – which remains open for bookings – was the subject of 2012 horror movie When The Lights Went Out and was investigated for the Halloween special of Most Haunted Live in 2015.
But Claire insists there is no way there could be a more rational explanation for the photo because a mirror in the shot shows no reflection.
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