No clowns allowed

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No clowns allowed

Sturgeon School Division has banned clown outfits for Halloween, and so has one St. Albert Catholic school.

Sturgeon School Division superintendent MichÈle Dick sent a letter to parents Wednesday that said division schools would have a “no clown costume” policy for the Halloween season.

The ban came after Morinville and Sturgeon county schools invoked security measures due to alleged sightings of aggressive persons dressed as clowns – a spinoff of the “creepy clown” trend sweeping North America.

Media reports have noted multiple cases throughout North America and Europe of individuals dressed as clowns attempting to scare or intimidate people over the last few months.

Global News reports that two teens in Edmonton were charged with uttering threats in early October after posting pictures of clowns along with vague threats online.

On Oct. 21, Georges H. Primeau and Morinville Public schools entered a “hold and secure” state (a security measure where all outside doors are locked) after a Primeau student claimed to have spotted a person dressed as a clown bearing a weapon in the area, said Greater St. Albert Catholic superintendent David Keohane.

Sturgeon Composite High increased supervision and locked its outside doors in mid-October following reports of a Facebook post suggesting clowns would visit the school, Dick said.

Morinville RCMP investigated and found no evidence to substantiate these threats, said Staff Sgt. Riz Suleman.

“There’s been nobody running around here in clown costumes as far as we know,” he said, although there have been cases reported in Fort Saskatchewan and Edmonton.

Real or not, these cases do take up police time and make people concerned about the safety of their community, he continued.

“It shouldn’t be done. It is a nuisance, and if there is a criminal offence occurring, we will take the appropriate enforcement action.”

Sturgeon Schools decided to ban clown outfits for Halloween in response to these two incidents, Dick said.

“The Halloween season should be fun,” she said, and heightened sensitivity around these outfits had put people on edge.

“We want everyone to have fun in a relaxed atmosphere.”

Dick said she had not received any complaints about the decision.

While G.H. Primeau has instituted a clown ban for the foreseeable future, the Catholic board has no plans for a district-wide one, Keohane said.

Spokesperson Paula Power said she was not aware of any clown-related incidents or bans in St. Albert Public Schools.

“No matter what you wear, we expect you to behave properly.”

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.