Oak Park bans clown costumes at Halloween event

The city of Oak Park has backed down from a clown costume ban at the Boo Bash celebration after blowback this week.

According to the Oakland County Times, children dressed as ghosts, vampires, witches, super heroes, and more will be allowed to gather at the Oak Park Community Center on Halloween night. But clowns will not be allowed at the event.

That was according to a Facebook post for the event, which the city announced for Halloween night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Parents and kids can enjoy cider and donuts and collect candy at the center, but they were specifically told "Clown costumes not allowed". (See embed below)

Now, though, City Manager Erik Tungate says they're asking parents to use discretion.

"We're not saying just clown costumes. We're using that as an example. But certainly any scary costume like that," Tungate said. "What we are trying to do is protect small children and families and make sure and protecting their right just as much as someone else's right in expressing themselves the way they want."

The Oakland County Times reports that the mayor did not know about the ban but Recreation Director Laurie Stasiak explained that the event is for young children and horror movies plus phobias has led to the ban.

"In the past few years many clown costumes have been given a very scary and evil look.  Many scary and horror movies are centered around these types of characters.  About 3 years [ago] there were national incidents in the news were people were dressing up as clowns and scaring people and in some cases assaulting them.  Many people have phobias and anxiety about clowns.  It’s because of this that we asked people not to dress up as clowns for this community event," Stasiak told the Times.

In 2016, when the clown incidents Stasiak mentioned were spreading, The Guardian reported many schools and counties banning clowns at the time.