Roses are red, violets are blue. If you’re into clowns, have we got news for you.
Some dark-humored Californians will be surprising their sweethearts this Valentine’s Day with balloons and flowers — personally hand-delivered to their door by clowns who typically make their living scaring the living daylights out of visitors to a haunted house.
What started as a joke has resulted in booming business for the Turlock, Calif. branch of Ranch of Horror, a family-operated haunted attraction with parks also in Louisiana and Missouri. For the past six years, Halloween has predictably been the company’s bread and butter. Now its sinister-seeming clowns are giving Cupid a run for his money by delivering Valentine’s Day grams to unsuspecting lovebirds — and the orders are flooding in.
“We kind of put it up as a joke,” Heather May tells Yahoo Lifestyle of the initial Facebook post announcing the Valentine’s Day grams. “We have a clown who’s really good at what he does and he’s like, ‘We should do Valentine’s Day grams’ ... and it just went crazy.”
That clown would be Peddles, one of four performers Ranch of Horror has hired to spread the romance for the holiday; due to demand, the company had to double its clown staffing. May describes Peddles, who bounces on a pogo stick and carries a modified Bop It toy featuring fake body parts, as the face of Ranch of Horror and someone who’s “really invested in his character.” That includes establishing a custom scent — typically bubblegum, though it’s the smell of cinnamon that’s currently wafting through lawns and lobbies as he makes deliveries — and for Valentine’s Day, selecting a personalized theme song for each recipient based on the message of love their valentine has sent.
Peddles is also silent, as is the all-white Blanco — “he’s very mysterious, he’ll sneak up on you and you won’t even know he’s there,” May says of the blond clown. And there are the two Tinys: one, a balloon-carrying woman May compares to It’s Pennywise, and the other, a “very sarcastic” man who “talks a lot of smack.”
Each clown — who will be making deliveries through Friday, Feb. 14 — is accompanied by a personal driver who also scouts the location to make sure it’s safe, kid-free and, in the case of an office, permissible. (If not, a recipient will have to be “lured” out of the building, where a clown will surprise him or her.) It’s a necessary precaution given some of the seemingly risky requests that have already come in. One police officer, for instance, booked a clown to surprise his girlfriend at her workplace: a bank.
“I’m not going to send a masked clown into a bank,” May responded.
While no incidents have been reported yet — apart from a local news producer covering the story who locked herself in the bathroom because of her fear of clowns — May admits that she’s bracing herself for some unpredictable reactions.
“If I wanted to get back at an ex or something, I’d be sending this,” she jokes. “I’m a 34-year-old woman. If somebody knocked on my door wearing a mask I’d be terrified.”
If you like your romance with a side of Ringling Bros. and Ronald McDonald, deliveries start at $18 for a gram with a balloon bouquet and card; additional gifts, such as flowers or a teddy bear, cost more. Delivering outside of Turlock also costs extra, though for now the business is limited to locations between Stockton and Fresno. To book, call 209-947-8999.
Given the demand this year, Ranch of Horror is open to expanding the clown gram service to more locations for future holidays or even offering them year-round for birthdays and special occasions. Word to the Pennywise: Maybe reconsider answering that doorbell.
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