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Students Rally After Alleged Penn State Clown Sighting

What started as a rumor quickly turned into a rally of sorts. Once Penn Staters heard even the faintest mumblings of the word “clown” earlier this evening, students took to the streets and sidewalks of both campus and downtown to hunt the alleged clowns themselves.

Much like anything viral these days, no one is 100 percent sure how the clown chatter started, but Onward State received early reports that there was a clown sighting near Nittany Apartments, which then moved to Pollock and later East Halls. We cannot confirm whether or not there was actually a clown sighting at these or any other campus location on Monday night.

It turns out the rumor (or maybe not) was all Penn Staters needed to take action.

Thousands of students gathered in East, South, and Pollock Halls, at Old Main, and even ran down College Avenue as the talk of clowns disseminated. Word spread quickly thanks to social media and GroupMe chatter and students rushed outside to get a look for themselves.

The gathering started in East Halls where, in minutes, students flooded the quad. Initially only a few students and a couple of Penn State Police Officers on bike, the area soon crowded with hundreds of students and officers both on foot and in their cars. From there, students began migrating down Bigler toward Pollock and South Halls. Traffic on campus was backed up because of the sudden influx.

Some students reported that as they ran from place to place they heard “eerie” clown music and laughter. As the mob grew, some came equipped with baseball bats, hockey sticks, tennis rackets, and golf clubs as weapons while others just took to the pavement to see what all the commotion was about.

Students further disseminated from there, running downtown, hanging off trees, and eventually making their way to Old Main Lawn. You know, the backdrop of some phase of practically every Penn State rally.

The clown craze wasn’t only confined to campus. As you can see above, people ran right down the middle of the street on College Ave (at least they were going the correct way). There was also a timely yet creepy image of a clown projected on the side of Beaver Hill.

clown wall beaver hill
Photo: Mitch Stewart | OS

The first report of a Penn State clown sighting came in at about 11:20 p.m., and by 11:50 students had gathered outside their buildings. There have been various ideas regarding the origin of the clown rumors, but according to university police, there weren’t actually any clowns.

“There was a report that someone saw a clown, but nobody has actually seen a clown,” a Penn State Police officer said when reached by phone. “The crowd was just running in the street — there hasn’t been any vandalism, hasn’t been any loitering. There hasn’t been any criminal activity at all.”

Despite that, police on the scanner said that they have received multiple reports that the reported clown sightings were fraternity pledges put up to the task in line with the national trend of creepy reported clown sightings. Police on the scanner also said around 1:30 a.m. that they were looking for a white Honda Odyssey potentially related to the reported sightings. Police also received alleged reports of people driving around downtown wearing clown masks.

By 1:15 a.m., most students found their way back to the rooms, but the clown commotion continued on social media and even picked up national attention. We don’t know if there were actually clowns in Happy Valley tonight, but we do know that Penn Staters will keep track down any clown that does show up.

About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.


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