In a Public Safety Warning (PSW) issued Monday by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, authorities are alerting County residents to an expected rise in Scary Clown sightings this week, as hundreds of clowns gather in Spring Lake for the three-day YOWZA 2016 Clown Convention, set to begin Thursday at the Spring Lake Holiday Inn. As Sheriff’s Deputy Bernard VanderFifen distributed copies of the PSW to media members at yesterday’s press conference, he elaborated on the reasons for today’s Warning. “It hasn’t been fully determined yet whether this now nationwide scary-clown craze truly reflects an increase in the number of scary clowns, or if it’s merely a misconception based on a decrease in sightings of friendly-clowns, but either way, we know that having hundreds of out-of-town clowns in our towns this week is bound to raise tensions, and more than anything else, we want to avoid another incident like the McDwyer Case.”
VanderFifen was referring to the case of Eileen McDwyer, the 54-year-old Grand Haven Township woman who last week suffered a broken rib, multiple abrasions and a severe case of acid-reflux after being misidentified as a clown and attacked in her own backyard. “I was only hanging bed sheets on a clothesline in our backyard”, said Eileen from her room at North Ottawa Community Hospital, “when suddenly I was attacked from behind by someone screaming, ‘Clowns are not welcome here, go back to the circus, Bozo!’. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.” While doctors expect Eileen to recover fully from her injuries, McDwyer’s assailant and neighbor, 48-year-old Township resident Wilfred Lomanski, was released without charge, after claiming and receiving protection under Michigan’s rarely used Mistaken-Identity Act (enacted in 1938).
“It’s not against the law to wear a clown suit in public”, emphasized Deputy VanderFifen “But we are asking the clowns to consider staying on Holiday Inn property while in full costume, and more than anything, we want to make sure members of the public don’t immediately resort to violence when seeing a clown around town. Just because someone is a clown, it does not give you permission to kill, or even maim them, unless of course you are under attack. Most clowns are lovely and decent human beings, and it’s only a few that we need to be truly scared of, or even terrified of in some cases, like with that freak, Pennywise the Clown.”
In an effort to further quell community fears over the anticipated influx of clowns into Western Michigan this week, Holiday Inn spokesperson Yanni Cleaver hosted a Pre-Convention Media Event at Jack’s Lounge in Spring Lake on Monday evening, explaining how the resort will be addressing safety concerns. “We’re working very closely with Superintendent Bozo and the Board of Clown Directors to ensure the safety of clowns and local residents alike”, said Yanni, before adding, “But on the bright side, parking won’t be the problem we usually encounter with large conventions, as we’ve been told the estimated 375 visiting clowns will be arriving in fewer than 25 cars.”
Cleaver also shared the official schedule for this week’s Clown Convention, YOWZA 2016, which includes lectures and instructional seminars on topics such as “Introduction to Scare-Tactics”, “Clowning Isn’t Always Funny”, “Costuming For the Season”, and many others. Saturday evening’s keynote address will be given by Ronald McDonald, a longtime advocate for clowns’ rights and a vocal proponent of nonviolent clowning. McDonald’s address, billed as the McSpeech-of-the-Year, is eagerly anticipated by attendees, especially given the current climate of public fear and distrust being shown towards clowns. While some events are open to the public, most are restricted to registered clowns only (see YOWZA2016.COM for details).
The Grand River Times would like to wish all our readers the happiest and safest of Halloweens.