An elderly Clarksville, Tennessee man recently caused quite a stir when he dressed up as a clown to celebrate his birthday.
Unfortunately, the man's choice of celebration resulted in a pretty significant misunderstanding, as it involved dressing as a clown and handing out candy to people.
A call to the police was made to report a man trying to lure children to his car with candy. In reality, the man was just trying to make people happy, though his method is a bit odd in today's culture.
Jim Knoll, spokesperson for the Clarksville Police Department, told BuzzFeed News:
"The guy's in his seventies. He's a Vietnam vet, and every person I spoke to said he's a nice guy."
"Nothing indicates he was doing anything nefarious."
A statement by the Police Department on Facebook addressed the call and assuaged public fears.
"The great clown mystery has been solved. Police have located the man who was spotted in a clown costume."
"He is an older man who dresses up once a year on his birthday as a clown and hands out candy Today, is his birthday."
Local businesses vouched for the man and his character.
"We went to a couple of places where he frequents and they verified he was at those places this morning dressed up as a clown."
"They say he is a nice man that dresses up and is known to give out candy."
Police who spoke with him also didn't think he had any malicious intent.
"Police had contact with him and he said he had been dressed up as a clown and did not mean any harm."
"There was also nothing that indicated to police that his actions were intentionally harmful or meant to scare anyone."
Many who commented on the department's post were thankful to find out that there was no danger.
Diane Fagin Herndon/Facebook
A few people talked about how things could have ended much, much worse.
Some praised the children who reported their encounter with the man for playing it safe.
Dana Davis Abee/Facebook
Several also wished the man a happy birthday, and expressed sadness at the misunderstanding.
The choice of handing out candy to children dressed as a clown does seem like a strange one, given many people's fear of clowns and the fact that children are taught about "stranger danger" from a young age.
It is a very good thing that nobody decided to take matters into their own hands, and that the man was still able to have a happy birthday.
In the future however, maybe the man will want to modify the way he celebrates his birthday.