Clown hysteria threatens safety, jobs of professional entertainers

Clown hysteria threatens safety, jobs of professional entertainers
Valerie Turpin
Valerie Turpin
Sunshine the Clown
Sunshine the Clown

SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - Reports of eerie clown sightings around the state and around the nation are causing concern among parents and kids.

On Friday, one professional clown explained why these horror stories are threatening not only her job, but also her safety.

Valerie Turpin, also known as Sunshine, said that all of these creepy clown sightings and the social media frenzy, nearly bring her to tears.

She said that she's heard people having a fear of clowns, but this is a whole new epidemic she wants to end.

"Clowns are fun-natured, loving individuals that bring happiness and joy," explained Turpin.

Sunshine is a happy clown that Turpin has been for almost 20 years now. But the face paint and goofy outfit isn't bringing the smiles it used to.

"I think that it's really sad that it has come to this," said Turpin.

Creepy posts about scary clown sightings in South Georgia are now taking over Facebook.

One post even put Pelham city schools on a short, soft lock-down on Friday.

"There's just some coward, or maybe even a kid or a child, who thinks this is funny," explained Turpin. "Behind a screen somewhere typing that they're coming to Moultrie, or they're coming to Sylvester, they're coming to the parks, they're in the woods, 'Come meet me, I have a gun.' They're threatening violence."

And now, Turpin says she's being targeted by people who are believing the hype.

"They'll shoot the first they see. They'll run over the first clown they see," said Turpin. "I've had someone to threaten to shoot out the windshield of my truck."

But it doesn't end there. Turpin said that her business is also in jeopardy.

"Someone called me yesterday, wanting a face painting party. And a lot of those parties are usually done in clown attire," explained Turpin. "And they asked specifically for Sunshine not to be there."

Valerie said that she hopes the clown hysteria is just a phase. One that will pass hopefully sooner rather than later.

But she said that while it's still an issue, she will maintain her profession.

"I know there are always going to be people who are scared of clowns out there, but there's not enough of us speaking up for the good clowns," said Turpin. "There's more negativity than there is positivity, and I just wanted to add to the positivity right now.

Sheriffs and police chiefs in the region have said that none of the reported creepy clown sightings have been confirmed or verified.

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