As Labor Day weekend approaches and we start to look ahead to the fall season, the first big holiday many are excited about is Halloween, along with all the spooky and fun activities it brings.

One major attraction each year is the Duluth Haunted Ship, which provides plenty of scares and screams throughout the month of October aboard the William A. Irvin.

Of course, different people have different fears and this week the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center announced a new addition to the attraction that may scare a portion of the population away from Canal Park this year.

According to Scientific American, the fear of clowns is a widely acknowledged phenomenon. Known as Coulrophobia, studies indicate this fear is present among both adults and children in many different cultures. However, due to a lack of focused research, the reason for the fear is not well understood.

In an attempt to gain a better understanding, they created a psychometric questionnaire on the topic, which was completed by an international sample of 987 people aged between 18 and 77. What they found was very interesting.


According to the study, more than half the respondents (53.5%) said they were scared of clowns at least to some degree, with 5% saying they were “extremely afraid” of them. Interestingly, this percentage reporting an extreme fear of clowns is slightly higher than those reported for many other phobias, such as animals (3.8%), blood/injection/injuries (3.0%), heights (2.8%), still water or weather events (2.3%), closed spaces (2.2%), and flying (1.3%). They also discovered that women fear clowns more than men and the fear diminishes with age for both sexes.

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So, we know Coulrophobia is real, but what causes it? Scientific American shared 8 reasons people fear clowns:

  1. An eerie or unsettling feeling due to clowns’ makeup making them look not-quite-human. A similar response is sometimes seen with dolls or mannequins.
  2. Clowns’ exaggerated facial features convey a direct sense of threat.
  3. Clown makeup hides emotional signals and creates uncertainty.
  4. The color of clown makeup reminds us of death, infection, or blood injury, and evokes disgust or avoidance.
  5. Clowns’ unpredictable behavior makes us uncomfortable.
  6. Fear of clowns has been learned from family members.
  7. Negative portrayals of clowns in popular culture.
  8. A frightening experience with a clown.

That leads us to the DECC's announcement this week that clowns will be the new addition to the haunted ship in October. In fact, they're not just adding clowns to their terrifying lineup, they're "doubling down on clowns."

While some Coulrophobia sufferers may want to stay away, perhaps others will welcome this news as the perfect opportunity to overcome their fear of clowns once and or all! Either way, the DECC added that Haunted Ship Tickets will be on sale soon so be on the lookout for ticketing information.

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