HURST -- Charles "Andy" Anderson, or Smiley, as he's alternately known, is one of about 100 professional clowns in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"I started clowning in '84," said the grandfather from Hurst.
For the past three decades, Anderson has filled his life and his home with joyful memories by serving the community through clowning.
"Going to children’s hospitals, I really enjoy that," Anderson said. "And being able to cheer the kids up, you can take people out of the real world for a short period of time and make them happy and forget all their cares."
But his passion isn't all fun and games. He says clowns spend years perfecting their craft and follow a code of conduct.
"And the last thing we’d want to do is try to scare anybody," Anderson said.
So it's been especially hard lately with the reports of creepy clowns scaring people, or making threats, in Texas and beyond.
"Even things that seem benign can be associated sometimes with a bad event," said Fort Worth psychologist Dr. Carolyn Self.
Self says fear of clowns isn't especially common as are fears of heights, animals or insects, but the fear can exist if, for instance, you've seen a scary movie or had a bad experience with a clown. But she points out you don't need to be scared of clowns to find these scenarios disturbing.
"It’s the very fact it's out of the norm," Self said. "It's irregular; it’s a little bizarre. It's suspicious."
But with the alleged sightings of so-called creepy clowns, one clown told News 8 over the phone that she and others have become hesitant to go to their gigs in costume for fear someone will misinterpret what they're doing.
"All the time and energy and effort we put into being good clowns, and to see someone like that do crazy things is just a shame," Anderson said.
The veteran clown says he'll continue clowning, knowing he's doing the right thing.
And he reminds people that no real clown will ever try to scare you.
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