“McDonald’s and franchisees in local markets are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities and as such are being thoughtful with respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events for the time being,” the company said in a statement.
The clown-faced character has been representing the fast-food company in various incarnations since 1963. But that decades-long run of greasepaint-caked ambassadorship has now been disrupted by an epidemic.
The public has been inundated with media reports of “creepy” clown sightings and incidents involving people dressed as clowns in recent weeks, though some reports have turned out to be hoaxes. As recently as Monday, a handful of clown-related incidents were reported, including an incident in North Carolina in which a hatchet-wielding man in clown makeup was arrested for trespassing on a store’s property.