By Anisah Abdullah and Rawson Jahan
“Creepy clown! Creepy clown!” That’s what kids screamed at Cido the Clown while they took pictures of him outside his home in Queens.
Cyrus Zavieh, who performed as Cido the Clown for almost two decades in New York City and Long Island, never had any problems with his profession until the recent “creepy clown” sightings emerged.
“On weekends, I make people happy and laughing and smiling, but now it seems a little bit different,” Zavieh said. “It’s a little frightening.”
Residents in several Suffolk County communities like Riverhead, Lindenhurst, Central Islip, Brentwood, North Babylon, Hampton Bays and Deer Park reported seeing people dressed in scary clown costumes along roads, beginning in late September as part of a national epidemic.
Sarah Byllott, a Centereach resident, said she saw a clown standing near a 7-Eleven in Deer Park at midnight on October 8. “I was worried I was going to see more clowns on my way home and was very cautious when I was driving,” Byllott said. “I was really shaky, actually.”
Clowns from various organizations and businesses who provide entertainment across Long Island have faced difficulties as a result of the recent scares.
Some of the nearly 50 members of the Latino Clowns have been stopped by police while driving and asked for identification, Carlos Solis, president of the Queens-based organization, said.
Solis also recounted one member’s experience at a Long Island store while on his way to entertain a party: “He goes inside to buy a bottle of water, people start looking at him, and they’re scared of him, and he said, ‘Hey don’t be scared, I’m a clown. It’s my makeup, don’t be scared.’”
One of Zavieh’s clown friends, who takes public transportation to his shows, was even forced to cancel a show because kids were throwing rocks at him.
“Clowns are for making laughs and smiles and making people happy,” Solis said. “If somebody goes to scare people or kids, they are not clowns. Don’t look at the news or listen about it.”
The epidemic has also caused clown businesses to slow down.
“I’ve lost a little bit of business because people aren’t calling up clowns,” Carol Klein, a Levittown resident who performs as MisMatch the Clown, said. “I am worried about it because we all want more business and I want people not to be afraid of something that should be bringing love and fun and entertainment to other families.”
Klein runs her own clown business with her son Garrett, known as YooHoo the Clown, because of their shared passion for entertaining. She began performing as MisMatch 25 years ago and will not be discouraged to pursue her career because of the current sightings, she said.
“As people don’t pay attention to their negativeness anymore, and they aren’t getting the attention from it, they will stop,” Klein said.
Klein and Zavieh agreed that they hope the incidents fade away after Halloween.