U.S. fast-food giant McDonald’s is putting its popular mascot on hiatus while reports of creepy clown sightings increase across the U.S.
Ronald McDonald, the red-haired, floppy-shoed clown will limit public appearances until further notice.
McDonald’s Corporation said Tuesday that it is being “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events” as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities.”
McDonald’s decision comes after a spate of pranks and threats nationwide that have involved eerie clowns. The trend began during the summer with unconfirmed reports in South Carolina. Since then, reports elsewhere have involved costumed hoaxsters frightening people on the street or people terrorizing others via social media.
The sightings in the U.S. appear to have sparked copy-cat acts in Australia and New Zealand, with police issuing stern warnings for would-be clowns.
Ronald McDonald has helped promote the company for decades and has become the namesake for a series of animated videos produced for the chain and a charity that helps sick children and their families.