Sweden’s biggest zoo bans clowns from Halloween show

Sweden’s biggest zoo has banned clowns from this year’s Halloween celebration, replacing them with mimes in performances and confiscating any clown masks or outfits brought by customers.

Sweden's biggest zoo bans clowns from Halloween show
One of the performers at Kolmården's Halloween celebration. Photo: Kolmården Zoo website
Kolmården Zoo, on the Baltic coast near Norrköping, decided to remove clown performances from its Halloween pageant after customers got spooked by the “killer clown” craze which swept Europe in October. 
“Our guests got in touch and asked whether we were going to have clowns because their children were afraid… and after that the decision was easy,” Mattias Zingmark, head of marketing, told Sveriges Radio. 
Zapp the clown, who was due to play a significant role in the Halloween performance, has been written out of the script and the actor given another role. “As an author I love to solve problems, so that’s exactly what I went and did,” said scriptwriter Kim Andersson.
He said that the Zapp character had now been replaced with a less-threatening mime. 
“We have a huge number of artists in [scary] make-up, actors and other extras who will create mystery so it’s obviously a balancing act,” Zingmark said of the changes. 
Any clown masks spotted in the zoo would be removed from customers, he added. 
“We will take away all scary masks from the park, no matter who is wearing them.” 
This is the fifth year running that the Zoo has put on the event, which includes a ghost and zombie safari, a Halloween feast and a Halloween disco. It  began on Wednesday and runs until Sunday night. 
The “killer clown” or “creepy clown” craze emerged in the US in the summer and has spread rapidly in Sweden, with several people being injured by the unsettling pranksters.  

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Swedish kids celebrate with unusual Halloween pumpkins

Sweden doesn't have centuries of Halloween tradition behind it like the US or UK, but the celebration is increasingly popular in the Scandinavian country, as a group of pre-school kids in western Swedish town Arvika proved.

Swedish kids celebrate with unusual Halloween pumpkins
This Swedish pumpkin brings back troubling memories from last summer. Photo: Arvika kommun

Their expertly carved pumpkins have been given pride of place in the town’s main park, and while some stick with the tried and tested Halloween approach of making the vegetables look as ghastly as possible, others take a more Swedish, seasonal approach.

Photo: Arvika kommun

Photo: Arvika kommun

So while there are ghosts and witches aplenty, there is also one pumpkin with an autumnal hairdo, and another that looks to be in it for the long run with a Christmas theme.

Photo: Arvika kommun

Photo: Arvika kommun

This is the third year in a row that Arvika has displayed pumpkins carved by pre-school kids in the park, and making a point of visiting to look at them is turning into something of a tradition for the locals.

“Coming and looking at the pumpkins is usually a popular feature. They tend to be very beautiful and so imaginative that you’re impressed. The kids have used their imagination so the pumpkins are a lot of fun,” Dagmar Nilsson, the head of the parks and greenhouses department of Arvika municipality told SVT.

If there’s one of the 80 pumpkins that sums up 2016 best, it’s perhaps the impressively accurate representation of Pikachu. For anyone who missed it, Pokémon made an unlikely comeback in Sweden last summer thanks to a mobile phone game which had priests, politicians, and even a lowly reporter hooked.