HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Photos of clowns are surfacing on social media, scaring people into thinking someone is trying to lure kids away from home.
According to local authorities across north Alabama, that's just not true. But what is true, is hoaxes like these, give people with good intentions a bad rap.
Paul Carlton has been “Curley” the clown for 25 years. “I'm going to be 74 years old next month and I’ve never grown up," said Carlton.
He's there for the smiles, the laughter-- traveling to hospitals, Nursing homes, and other events just to make people feel good. Even for just a second.
He says there's no denying that some people "Are scared of clowns. They've seen these scary movies and things like that."
And when photos appear on social media, claiming clowns are lurking, it definitely doesn’t help. "We combat that all the time. And our best way to do that is when we're out there is to be a very good clown. And to be funny and make people laugh and smile."
But you can imagine his grief, knowing what he loves to do most is being tarnished by fear, all from a lousy joke. "Don't scare them -- that's not the objective of being a clown," said Carlton. "That is not who we are and that's not who the World Clown Association is all about or the Rocket City Clown is all about."
He says if clowning around is what you're about, well, you've got some big shoes to fill. "We're out there to bring smiles and laughter to people and if you're not out there to do those things, you don't really need to be a clown," said Carlton.