If you want to freak America out, the easiest way is to just be a clown in a public space.
Local TV station WISN reports Waukesha, Wis., residents are rattled over sightings of a person wearing a plastic clown mask and an orange jumpsuit near the campus of Carroll College.
The first sightings of the clown showed up on social media about two weeks ago. Most people reacted to the mystery clown with either mild amusement or barely-restrained terror.
Police told WISN they know the identity of the mystery clown, and that he's a local "developmentally delayed" teenager who is just trying to get people to react (mission accomplished).
"Both he and his parents were advised several times it would really help us out if he wouldn't stand out there doing that," police told WISN.
WISN updated its original story on Tuesday to say police now believe there is a second copycat clown in town, inspired by the original.
Incredibly, Waukesha is far from the first town to be besieged by a silent, solitary clown. Here are some other recent cases of civic coulrophobia:
- The Wasco Clown of Wasco, Calif., frightened members of the Southern California town last year as photos showed the clown roaming the streets after dark, sometime with a bunch of balloons.
- Earlier that year in March, a Staten Island clown also spread heebeegeebees across the New York City borough. The Staten Island Advance later uncovered evidence the clown may have been the work of multiple people.
- Back in July, a clown was spotted scaling the gate of Chicago's Rosehill Cemetery.
- A man wearing a business suit as well as a rubber clown mask startled Australian commuters back in May. An unidentified man later came forward and told The Daily Mail the clown was his very tall, 14-year-old son, and that the clown mask was confiscated.
And those are just people dressed as clowns providing an air of general menace; there are many other incidents of men in clown outfits actively frightening people, sometimes breaking the law.
It's amazing so many people own clown masks, and so few seem to own a calendar to tell them that Halloween is on October 31.