Excited for Halloween, but nervous about running into ominous clowns?
Not to worry: Jefferson County high-school student Rocco Marchitto has developed an app, CreepTrek.com, that allows you to see where there have been clown sightings — not just in metro Denver, but around the world.
Zooming in on this map shows a total of four sightings reported so far in the Denver area, each with a time, precise location and other details.
Why did Marchitto create CreepTrek.com? "Safety, and sheer curiosity," he says.
There was also some personal motivation. "My little sister had come home from elementary school one day and was scared after her friends said they saw clowns the day before. And the next day, my school had increased security due to supposed clown sightings in the area," Marchitto reports. "One teacher even broke into tears because the whole incident reminded her of previous school crises. It spooked a lot of people out and really isn't funny."
In fact, most schools and even the Denver Zoo have banned clown costumes through October 31.
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"Halloween is the essential date here," Marchitto says. "It is just such a perfect time for creeps to scare children just for their own entertainment, and it could become a safety hazard if it gets out of hand."
Marchitto sends his apologies to experienced web programmers for the sloppiness of his code, explaining that he just picked up web programming days before making this app. He hopes for a career in formal mathematics and the sciences.
In the meantime, the seventeen-year-old has a message for the community: "I encourage everyone to add not just clowns but anything suspicious at all to the map, and especially for children and parents to have the map handy before and during trick-or-treating."