By Amanda Bates
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The rash of stories about scary clowns terrorizing schools and menacing neighborhoods has taken a toll on people like Inga Davis – not because she is worried about some mad-crazed jester attacking her, but because she fears others are now afraid of her.
Davis, who is best known to children and others she entertains throughout the Baltimore region as Inga the Clown, said news stories about scary clown sighting’s have hurt her career.
“I do not feel safe stepping outside now in my clown attire in fear I will be attacked,” said Davis, who has been called “Baltimore’s most beautiful clown around town.”
Her concerns are justified. The Associated Press recently reported that a 16-year-old wearing a clown-like mask was fatally stabbed in Pennsylvania after creating a neighborhood controversy.
Davis said she is disheartened by the image the scary clowns have generated and that the negative press has hurt the clown business.
“The reality of it is that it is taking a hit,” Davis said. “This is our bread and butter for the people who are so eager to humble themselves to bring others peace and joy.”
Davis has worked as a clown for two years. She has been hired for private and corporate parties, and she has also recorded an album called “Positive Thoughts.” According to Davis, the album focuses on teaching children both academic and personal values.
Davis says she hoped to take her album on tour at schools in Baltimore County and Baltimore City. Once the scary clowns began gaining negative media attention, Davis said her dream and hard work was brought to a halt.
Multiple schools have been forced to lock down due to threats made from scary clowns on social media. According to Baltimore County Police, any threats made over social media will be investigated.
To ensure the safety of its students, the Baltimore County school system says it has added additional security to schools and is also closely monitoring social media.
“It’s really unfortunate because kids shouldn’t be cheated out of this experience with me,” Davis said.
Davis is not alone when it comes to providing educational programs to children in Baltimore.
David Felzenberg, known as Bubbles the Clown, has been a clown in the Baltimore-Washington area for more than 30 years. He said he is “grateful to be able to present wholesome and family-oriented programs.”
“I use my clown persona to help reach children as young as those in pre-K so they will learn life lessons in a positive way early in life,” he said.
Felzenberg said he, like other professional clowns, strive to bring enjoyment into the lives of children and people of all ages.
“The goal of any professional clown is to help create laughter, dispense happiness, and spread cheer,” Felzenberg said. “Professional clowns treat children with dignity and respect.”
Retail stores are also making changes due to the threatening clown sightings. According to the Washington Post, Target recently discontinued sales of all scary clown merchandise from their stores and online.
However, not all stores are making changes to their products availability.
Scott Morris, president and CEO of Morris Costumes and Halloween Express, said that while stores like Target are worried about their image in the marketplace his specialty stores will continue to sell clown merchandise.
“Anyone that goes into a true Halloween store is expecting this stuff,” Morris said.
Morris said that since his stores are both specialty and seasonal, it allows a space for scarier products.
There are currently over 150 Halloween Express stores across the country. Morris said his company ships about 20,000 costumes a day both nationally and internationally, including clown costumes and accessories.
World Clown Association President Randy Christensen recently addressed the reports, saying that not all clowns are like the scary characters pictured in the media.
“We try not to focus on the negatives but try to provide a positive image of clowning,” Christensen said.