From silly to sinister: The clown’s image gets creepy

WASHINGTON — Ashley Barazsu has been scared of clowns for about 15 years – – and she vividly remembers the night her fear began.

Barazsu, now 30, was walking through a haunted forest with friends when a clown jumped out in front of her. Only this clown was not decked out in the “clown flare” of balloon animals and squirt-gun rings to which Barazsu was accustomed. He had a chainsaw.

“I had always heard stories about people being afraid of clowns, but this was my first understanding of why,” says Barazsu of southeast Michigan. “My reaction was to immediately bolt in the opposite direction, to get as far away from him as possible.”

To this day, that’s still her reaction when she encounters a clown.

Click on the gallery for creepy clown photos

Barazsu’s fear of clowns is not uncommon — especially among adults.

Sylvia Lett, a professional clown in Prince George’s County, Maryland, says most of the people she meets who are scared of clowns are adults.

Lett, who goes by ‘Auntie Streamer,’ has been a clown in the D.C. area for nine years. She spends five to seven days a week working children’s birthday parties and visiting children’s hospitals. She says she gets nothing but smiles and hugs from kids — it’s the adults she has to comfort.

“I tell them,

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