Manitoba

Leave creepy clown masks at home this Halloween, school divison tells students

The Winnipeg School Division is asking students to avoid wearing clown masks to school for Halloween because of the recent so-called creepy clown scares.

Winnipeg School Division says aim of creepy clown masks seems to be 'to deliberately scare people'

This person dressed as a clown for Halloween in 2015. Regina police say they're dealing with complaints about some people wearing clown costumes who are scaring people. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

The Winnipeg School Division is telling students not to wear clown masks to school for Halloween because of the recent so-called creepy clown scares.

Spokesperson Radean Carter says the move is being made after a surge in creepy clown sightings reported on social media and in communities across the U.S. and Canada, including Winnipeg.

"Our code of conduct is very clear about threatening or bullying behaviour and it seems like the sole purpose of the creepy clown masks is to deliberately scare people," said Carter.

"School principals in the school division are asking our students and parents to just avoid wearing clown masks to school for Halloween, particularly the scary clown masks."

The Winnipeg School Division is telling students not to wear clown masks to school for Halloween because of the recent so-called creepy clown scares. 1:40

Winnipeg police arrested two 17-year-old boys on Saturday night after people reported they were being chased by the teens who were dressed up in clown costumes and masks in the Valley Gardens area.

Police say one of the teens was carrying a flashlight that looked like a weapon. 

Carter said the two teens arrested do not attend schools within the Winnipeg School Division but she added schools are taking these incidents seriously.

"We haven't had any of these incidents on any of our school properties and we're really happy about that," Carter said.

"But we are being very vigilant because it does come across as being threatening, and we've been advised by the police that if there's a concern for safety that we should be contacting police immediately."

Carter says letters are being sent home to parents and Halloween safety reminders are being put up around high schools.

"Anyone acting in a threatening or bullying manner with or without a clown mask will face consequences subject to our code of conduct." 

A spokesperson for the Pembina Trails School Division says it's up to each school to use its discretion in setting rules on whether students should be allowed to wear clown masks for Halloween.

Halloween Maze cancels clown chase 

Some Halloween events outside the city are scrapping plans to have staff dress up in clown costumes this year.

Boonstra Farms in Stonewall, Man. has a Halloween Maze which also features a Tower of Terror with clowns inside.

Owner Murray Boonstra said they will still have clowns in the tower but there will be no clowns chasing people in the maze as in previous years.

"There won't be anybody being chased by a clown this year, not our clowns anyway," said Boonstra.

"We have Jason with the chain-saw chasing people but now with this clown thing, no way," he laughs.

Clowns of all shapes and sizes like the ones pictured above have been frightening people in the United States all summer. The problem is now north of the border. (Erik S. Lesser/EPA)

Boonstra said they will keep an eye out for pranksters who may show up wearing clown masks, adding the event is supposed to be fun for the whole family.

The Spooky Barn is also changing plans to have clowns at their annual event.

"This was the first year we were going to do clowns," said organizer Susan Lisoway.

"We kind of planned this way back in August and then this whole clown thing happened," she said.

The Spooky Barn, located near Birds Hill Park, is now in its seventh year. The attraction has a bale maze that will have dolls wearing clown masks but there will be no staff dressed up as clowns.

"We did have some clown costumes but we nixed that just because of this whole clown thing that's going on. We just didn't think it was appropriate," said Lisoway.