ELBURN – Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith opened the door to his office Monday, producing a red, yellow and blue clown suit, the same worn by a figure who has been popping up in photos on the Facebook pages of Elburn residents over the past few weeks.
In the photos, a person is seen wearing the clown suit and a white feather boa, as well as a bunny mask that covers the face. The person is riding a woman's bicycle – barefoot – in the photos.
Stating the case was "solved," Smith said the person in the suit was a teenage girl, who had discovered the suit in a chest that was acquired by her family at an estate sale. He said the girl wore the getup to see what kind of reaction she would get. In some instances, he said, youths would wave at her.
But Smith said parents grow concerned whenever people hide their identity around children, and he said he and officers in town had been investigating since he learned about the sightings in early August.
There were no charges filed in the case.
"I firmly believe that nobody ever was in any kind of danger," Smith said.
"There was no malice in it," he said. "It was a young person having fun with this. … It was nothing more than that, someone riding around in a costume."
There was much reaction to the bunny clown bicyclist, and it was a hot topic on social media. On one Twitter page, the photo was posted, inspiring comments such as "oh my gosh! It's sooo creepyy!" and "that's the most scariest thing ever."
Elburn resident Cindy Rowland didn't see the clown as something scary at all. She said she encountered the clown one day, and she thought it was funny.
"I honked and waved," Rowland said. "The clown waved back at me."
Rowland said she called some friends, and others also had heard of it. But Rowland said she noted the social media response on Facebook, for instance.
"People were commenting like they were scared," Rowland said. But she said she didn't think that at all. "I wrote that it was just fun and innocent."
Smith said officers were digging for information, which eventually led them to the girl. Police visited her and her mother last week. He said the mother and daughter were "mortified" to hear that people were concerned about it, and Smith said the girl's mother handed over the clown suit.
"She didn't want it in the house anymore," Smith said.
Smith said he understood why parents might be concerned. He said there were some reports that children were being chased by a clown, but he said he believes that youths were not chased.
"People have issues with clowns and things like that," Smith said. "And people are especially concerned when they have kids."