Campus Clown Hunt: Nightmare on College Ave

If you were in State College last night you probably heard the screams, listened to the rumors, or even participated in the commotion. Supposed clowns roamed around campus and Penn State students were not going to go down without a fight.

The clock struck midnight and I was immediately woken up by chaotic college kid screams outside of my apartment. Although it was a Monday night, I assumed it was just students coming home from their first socials of Homecoming week. I was wrong, for the clowns finally invaded University Park.

My roommate shot up from her bed across the room and said she just got a text that clowns were roaming around campus. Fear shivered down my spine and terror filled the apartment. Like any other student, my first instinct was to check my GroupMe chats. Of course, all of my friends were talking about it:

“Apparently there was one in Nittany Apartments,” said Drew Geller, a sophomore.


“Wtf is happening at state,” said Jordan Kruger, a PSU Class of 2016 graduate.

“No one was running away from anything…students were hunting the clown down,” said Patty De Tomas, a junior.

My roommate and I were going back and forth showing each other different pictures and videos that were sent to us. We saw herds of students sprint down College Ave. and Shortlidge Rd. We heard a mob of freshmen chanting in East Halls, and we watched some friends on Snapchat as they traveled on their own to find the rally.

I heard rumors that East Halls was on lockdown and a clown chased after a student on Bigler Road. The night concluded with a crowd gathered at Old Main; the perfect backdrop for any Penn State rally.

However, some students were confused by the chaos.

“I had absolutely no idea what was going on,” said Samantha Tecce, a sophomore who lives in Ewing Hall. “All of a sudden there was 700 people outside of my window chanting.” She later learned what was happening but in the moment she was confused and scared.

So was the hype real? Were the screams that woke me up actually about a clown? Was the sprinting across campus really worth it?

In an interview with Centre Daily Times, Penn State Police Sergeant Mike Nelson said no actual clown sightings were reported. “The cause of this was specifically social media,” Nelson said.

The clown chaos at Penn State is just another incident added onto a long list of sightings. Clown related hysteria has been swarming the nation for the past few weeks. According to Rolling Stone, reports of clown sightings first appeared in South Carolina in late August. Since then sightings have been reported in Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and New York.

So what really caused students to flood the streets? Frat pledges? Rumors? Social media? Penn Staters may never know if clowns really were lurking across campus Monday night.

All Valley can say is, stay safe, Penn State. Use the buddy system, be aware and report anything weird if you see it. Here’s to hoping that Penn State can get a good night sleep tonight to recover from Monday night’s madness. Even if clowns do terrorize State College, it shouldn’t last long because this is Happy Valley after all!