GRANDVIEW, Mo. — It seems innocent enough: a lone red ballon on a sidewalk. It’s popping up around the metro – and your social media feeds.
But when it’s coupled with this weekends blockbuster movie Stephen King’s It, the photos suddenly seem sinister.
Police in Grandview agreed to do extra patrols after one eagle-eyed mother spotted one of those red balloons half a block from an elementary school.
For those of you who don’t know, Pennywise – It – the clown uses red balloons to lure children to their death in Stephen King’s It.
“I was getting ready for bed last night and I noticed the balloon out there, ad I thought, what’s that?” Bill Johnson remembered. “This morning, it was still there.”
Johnson lives on Cambridge Avenue in Grandview. For the record, he did not put that red balloon on the sewer. But he, and his neighbors, want to know who did.
In the last few days, the horror movie “It” hit theaters. At the same time, red balloons hit social media, an the metro.
Only a couple of area police departments have actually received calls about them.
“I think just about everybody knows what it symbolizes,” said Christina from her car on Monday. She is Bill Johnson’s neighbor, and did not want her face shown on camera, or her last name used. And she is one of the people who called police.
Initially, she says, she spotted a red balloon near her children’s school Monday morning. But it was only after she says she saw a clown walking away from her children’s school, and into her neighborhood, that she called police.
“If you have a grown man, dressed up, in front of a school, as a clown,” she said. “To me, that’s taking it too far.”
She continued, “A balloon is one thing – haha, it’s funny. But to go to the extent (of dressing like a clown) you are a really either trying to frighten somebody, or cause harm.”
“In this day and age,” she said, “you never know. More than likely – I would just like to believe he was trying to be funny. And play a joke. But you do have some really sick, twisted people that go a little bit further.”
Police say there’s nothing they can do, and Christina agrees.
“It’s not a crime to dress up as a clown and walk in front of a school – which I understand,” said the mother of five.
“Nor is it illegal to tie a balloon to a sewer, I get that. But I was a little upset, given the content of the movie and what it stood for.”
Police told Christina they would do a couple more patrols through her neighborhood. The red balloon lasted all day at Bill Johnson’s house, but didn’t make it through the after school crowd: a child took it home with him. Proving, perhaps, that the red balloon is scarier to parents than to their children.