BY ROB RYSER
Danbury (Connecticut) Mayor Mark Boughton is done clowning around with his 27,000 Twitter followers, some of whom have taken his tongue-in-cheek tweets about the recent clown scare seriously.
“There are no clowns of ill intent in Danbury,” the longtime GOP mayor said Thursday. “We are not going to clown around any more on this issue.”
The mayor said he hoped the 15 minutes of fame are up for the creepy clown craze, which got started on social media mainly as a joke but got co-opted by hoaxers who scared people into thinking killer clowns are skulking in the woods or threatening schools.
Police and school security officials across Connecticut have spent days tracking down clown-inspired social media posts and reports of clown sightings to assure worried parents that they are unfounded. After spending the first part of the week having fun with the phenomenon on Twitter, Boughton had to switch gears: posting serious tweets that the clown talk was much ado about nothing.
On Oct. 6, the story appeared to have come full circle. A Twitter user tweeted the following question to Boughton: “Of all the stuff in the realm of being mayor, did you ever think you’d have to make serious comments about clown?”
“No,” the mayor tweeted back.
Anyone wondering how clowns suddenly became news could check their mayor’s Twitter feed on Oct. 10, when a user tweeted the seemingly random question to Boughton about the presence of clowns in Danbury.
“I hate clowns,” Boughton tweeted back satirically. “They freak me out. I’m on the lookout.”
But the mayor was just getting started.
“For the record, we are on Defcon 1
regarding the sighting of clowns in Danbury,” he tweeted. “All public safety personnel have had anti-clown training.”
When a follower tweeted, “Mayor Mark, please keep me safe from clowns,” the mayor tweeted back, “I will. Clowns are freaky.”
The fun went on as a Twitter user tweeted to Boughton, “MayorMark for president 2016. He’ll protect us from clowns and cancel school.”
Boughton’s response: “See if Hillary or Trump will protect students from the clown invasion. Doubt it.”
The mayor even decided to tease his favorite foil — Danbury high schoolers, who often plead with him to cancel school for creative reasons.
“Clowns creeping around Danbury,” the mayor tweeted. “Don’t like it one bit. May have to cancel school.”
Some adult observers apparently took the mayor’s satire seriously — his tweet declaring Danbury a “creepy clown-free zone” notwithstanding.
By Oct. 11, he was assuring parents that police were investigating cyber threats, and that there had been no clown sightings in Danbury.
“You know it has been tough to juggle the good-clown versus the bad-clown stuff,” Boughton said. “The funny part is the kids have taken it better than the adults. The kids get it.”
By Thursday, the mayor apparently felt it was safe to be himself again
Responding to a tweet asking him “Are you positive there are no clowns?” the mayor tweeted: “Yes. A clown plague of death has arisen. All clowns are dying off.”
Rob Ryser is a reporter for the Danbury (Conn.) NewsTimes. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.