YUMA, Ariz. – It’s a national phenomenon that took the Desert Southwest by storm, several people dressing up as clowns and roaming city streets day and night. The situation has brought a good laugh to some residents but others have voiced concerns. We tracked the group of clowns down to get answers for their motives what we found seems harmless. “We are trying to show people we’re not out here to scare people kids don’t have to be scared”, said one of the clowns named Richard Wagner.
It all started with a photo posted to social media last week, showing a clown in a prison jumpsuit riding a bike. The man behind the mask that started it all is Yuma resident Joseph Arballo. “Somebody in a black truck stopped by and took a picture”, said Arballo.
That picture has since been shared online countless times and picked up by media outlets nationwide. The attention just led to more clowns. “I live across from the 1st clown, it got media coverage I said hay do you have any more costumes lets go to the corner and get some business out here”, said Wagner.
The clowns formed a team of three and have been trying to get business for Yuma Snow On The Go, owned and operated by Aaron Denison who had a mission for these clowns. “Went and got a few more clowns and just wanted to have a little fun there are to many negative things going on in the world.” The “fun” came at a time when reports out of other states, such as South Carolina and California, claim people dressed as clowns are trying to lower children into the woods. Nothing like this has been reported in the Desert Southwest. “I found out about some stuff going on in South Carolina and California and it really concerned me that people are afraid of my clowns hurting people in Yuma”, said Denison.
We spoke to one resident, who does not want to be identified, that says these clowns or someone influenced by them chased and scared their children. They say their children were scared, crying and shaking and afraid to go to school. Denison says it was definitely not his clowns that did that and he has heard of “copy cat” clowns in Yuma. “I did hear of some copycat Clowns chasing people and that really concerned me so Sunday I posted we are not going to do this anymore”, said Denison. For cases like that the Yuma Police Department encourages you to call police so they can investigate any wrong doing. “If they do it in a way that’s threatening please call us”, said SGT. Lori Franklin with YPD. Police say the simple act of dressing up like a clown in public is not a crime, but if the people dressing up commit some form of harassment or other crime police may be able to take action.
Denison says “his clowns” will not be dressing up in public anymore, expect possibly near Halloween. He says he hopes they can find a way to raise money for a local organization to give back to the community.