Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meat Cleaver-Wielding Clown Meant No Harm

A poster called "jk252b" left the following question on Ask Metafilter this week:
"I remember around 5th or 6th grade, somewhere between 1991 - 1993, there being reports of a meat cleaver wielding clown running around St. Paul. He didn't actually attack anyone -- just scared children at playgrounds and maybe stared into people's windows. As the memory goes, the clown was spotted at the MLK Center which was directly next door to my school, and outdoor recess was canceled for a week. Apparently it was determined to be a hoax, and everything was back to normal."
The poster asks if it was real, and says he or she had no luck tracking the story down with Google or Lexis-Nexis.

I grew up in St. Paul, too, and I have absolutely no recollection of this. And I was in high school back then. But apparently it really happened. Or did it? A poster called "cashman" responds with an article from the June 5th, 1992 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune called "Clown says she didn't mean any harm". Here it is:
The case of the meat-cleaver-wielding clown apparently has been cracked.

It was all a misunderstanding, said Jeanne Bromberg, a novice clown and main suspect in one of the alleged clown capers.

Bromberg, 43, said Thursday that the misunderstanding began the night she graduated from clown school at Lakewood Community College in White Bear Lake. After graduation, she drove her silver Corvette to the library in North St. Paul to drop off a few clowning books.

That night, police got a report from a 13-year-old girl who said she was followed by a clown brandishing a meat cleaver.

Bromberg, who lives in Princeton, heard the reports but didn't think she and the alleged crazed clown were one and the same.

But as police got further into their investigation, Bromberg learned she was the main suspect. She called police. They talked. And the case was closed, Bromberg said.

The North St. Paul police investigator handling the case was unavailable last night.

Bromberg said she doesn't recall having seen a girl when she went to the library that night. But if she did see a child, she probably would have stuck her white-gloved hand out the car window and waved, she said. But there was no meat cleaver.

"If the girl saw something that frightened her, I'm glad she reported it," Bromberg said. "But if it was fabricated, that's another thing."

Last month the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department received four complaints of suspicious activity in Shoreview and Vadnais Heights by a person with a white-painted face, bright red hair and a green and white polka-dot costume.

Bromberg's clown costume is a long, blonde, curly wig, stovepipe hat, a bright red jacket and rainbow-colored pants and bow tie.

"I'm sorry this misunderstanding caused so much panic," she said. Some clowns throughout the Twin Cities have said they have been harangued and chided since the clown sightings were made public. At the same time, they're appalled by the reports that one of their own or someone impersonating a clown could be frightening children.

"No clown would ever frighten a child," Bromberg said. "Our code of ethics wouldn't even permit us to squirt water at a child. Children are our passion, our joy and our living. There might be kooks out there who might dress up like clowns, but they're not real clowns."
True or not, it's a great story. Does anyone remember this?

[Thanks for the tip, Christopher.]


Anonymous Andy said...

I've seen some internet commotion about this in the last few days -- I guess a lot of people do seem to remember this.

Incidentally, I really enjoy reading your posts about Minnesota. They ring true, and you don't condescend! So many do! Why? Is it that easy?

Anyway, it's good to know you're on the case, since my ambitions for the Blue Book have been subsumed by a wholly fictitious neighborhood.

9:13 PM  

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