PROSPECT — Jeremy Sawyer was a teenager when he began volunteering as a frightful-looking clown at The Friends of Fort Knox’s annual haunted tour, Fright at the Fort. Now 26, he’s just as excited to drag out his costume as ever as he gears up to crouch in a corner Friday night and scare the bejeezus out of passersby.
“I love horror movies and comedies. I’m a real fan of B movies,” he said of the campy cross-comedy/horror genre.
He is a huge fan of Halloween and created the sinister clown character “The Freak Show,” which plays on people’s fears of clowns in general.
“He’s so way out there, beyond who I normally am,” said Sawyer. “If I can’t make them scared, I’ll make them laugh.”
“My voices are what gets them,” he said, giving a demonstration — “Kids, where y’all goin,” he said in a scratchy Downeast Maine accent.
He created the costume from scratch with help from a makeup artist who had instructed the Fright at the Fort “haunters.” Along with the striped black and neon green costume, he’ll unveil a new prop he procured this year called a scream cannon, which is a loud horn blast combined with a spotlight.
“We’ll just get up behind people and set this off,” he said, smiling.
He’s part of the 100 volunteers who orchestrate the haunted tour each year as nearly 8,000 people make their way through the Fort’s creepy corridors.
“I’m part of a group of 15 people who do what I do,” he said. “We all get along and have a lot of fun doing this each year.”
They call themselves Carnevil.
“All of us have said we’d love to do this again for other organizations, as long as it doesn’t interfere with Fright at the Fort’s schedule,” he said.
Sawyer has costume ideas sketched out on paper that he hopes to transform into more characters down the road. For now, The Freak Show is primed and ready to go. If you go to Fright at the Fort this year and an evil clown jumps out at you with a scratchy Maine accent, go ahead and scream. It’s just Jeremy.
To learn more about what Fright at the Fort is all about, check out our latest story, The ghoulish underbelly of Fright at the Fort.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org