CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - With all the clown sightings going on recently, there are real clowns out there who are not happy about their image being hijacked by pranksters around the country.
John Pantoja is also known as the Corpus Christi Joker. He has been dressing in character for about 20 years now, but with all the hysteria across the country over empty threats of violence by people dressed as clowns, he is now asking for police protection. He is scheduled to appear at Los Encinos Elementary School on Friday.
"The way things are going right now, I asked for police escort not only for my safety but for the safety of the community and of the children at Los Encinos," Pantoja said.
He doesn't think there is anything funny about his professional craft being highjacked by those who are trying to scare everyone.
"This is a type of terrorism. This is always the way terrorism works. They want to change your way of life," Pantoja said. "They want to change your everyday way of thinking and I don't think it's fair."
Chris Adler and Mary Ann Sinclair don't think it's right at all. They are part of the Clowns Who Care group that has been showing up to Driscoll Children's Hospital for over 20 years to try and put smiles on the faces of children and their parents who are dealing with a real health crisis; but now with the empty social media threats involving clowns, they fear for their members' safety and good names.
"It's just something we're all worried about, but we're not exactly sure what to do about it," Adler said. "I resent it terribly because we've invested thousands of hours and we've seen tens of thousands of children."
Adler added that many members are from outside the area and drive all the way to the hospital for their appearances.
"But it's still hazardous to be in a car costumed like that with people passing by," Sinclair said. "They used to just wave to us. I don't know if they'd wave at us now."
No one has an answer to the nationwide clown hoaxes, but for these professionals, they plan to continue to do what they do best -- clowning around.