Ronald McDonald and his bright red hair have been placed in the witness protection program by McDonald’s. Executives of the fast food restaurant with the clown mascot have decided to keep Ronald McDonald appearances limited in lieu of the creepy clown craze that has swept across the nation.
McDonald’s announced on Tuesday that the recent outbreak of violent acts reported across the country – whether the reports were determined to be real or fake – has prompted executives to limit Ronald McDonald public appearances. The decrease in the number of community events at which Ronald McDonald will appear is directly because of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities,” reports New York Daily News.
According to NBC News, McDonald’s spokeswoman, Terri Hickey, emailed a statement saying that executives are “being thoughtful” in their decision to limit Ronald McDonald appearances, but did not go into detail regarding the typical calendar of events at which Ronald McDonald participates, nor did she say by how much they might be reduced.
Incidents of creepy clowns being spotted were first reported this summer in South Carolina but quickly spread to other states across the country. The clowns have been responsible for performing pranks as well as for actual violence, and children have reported clowns hiding in woods and offering them candy.
In September, a boy in New Jersey was chased by three clowns who appeared from a forest. The next day, a different clown, who was carrying a sword, ran after another boy.
In one instance, reports New York Daily News, a 22-year-old woman in Alabama posted threats on Facebook against a high school using the names “Shoota Cllown” and “Flomo Klown.” The threats she posted caused the school to be locked down and resulted in her being arrested Sept. 19 and charged with making terrorist threats.
In Queens, N.Y., a man told police in early October that a clown holding a steak knife threatened him at his residence. In another incident in Portland, Ore., a clown wearing boxing gloves punched toward middle school children and attacked the vice principal of the school as well. In that case, officials from the David Douglas School District pleaded with the community.
“If you or someone you know was toying with the idea of dressing up as a clown as a prank, just don’t. It is not funny, we have some legitimately frightened kids, and someone is going to get hurt.”
WATCH: Terrifying new creepy clown sighting as a driver catches a clown clinging to the back of a moving bus. https://t.co/8RVRfjzsR3
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 11, 2016
Professional clowns work to spread happiness and to make people laugh, just like Ronald McDonald, and they are also feeling the effects of the creepy clown craze spreading across the nation. In an interview with NBC News, professional clown Kelly Monfort, aka Mr. Twister, spoke of the negative effects he first began noticing around Labor Day this year.
“I walked into a event in a bright-colored hat and vest and one of the first things someone said was, ‘Oh my God, it’s a clown, it’s a clown’ — in a frightened way.”
He worries that he might draw negative attention or even prompt calls to police simply by walking into events or performing in public places.
Ronald McDonald has been the mascot and public face of McDonald’s for decades, appearing in their commercials and in restaurants worldwide. The clown is also the face of Ronald McDonald House Charities, an organization founded in 1974 whose largest corporate donor is McDonald’s, although on Tuesday, his face was noticeably absent from the charity’s website, rmhc.org.
Ronald McDonald houses provide mobile house care, scholarships, housing for families whose loved ones suffer from serious illness, and other services in more than 63 countries and regions. The organization also provides grants to non-profits that focus on children’s needs. Ronald McDonald Charities count 389,000 staff members and volunteers.
The heyday of Ronald McDonald may have passed, if a poll published in NBC News is any indication. In 2014, 43 percent of Americans polled by the Rasmussen polling firm said they “don’t like” clowns. In 2015, an annual survey of American fears by Chapman University found that 6.8 percent of Americans associate clowns with a great deal of anxiety.
However, Ronald McDonald has survived the negative connotations with serial killer/clown John Wayne Gacy as well as Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It. McDonald’s executives must certainly be hoping that the smiling, happy face of their franchise, Ronald McDonald, will survive the latest creepy clown craze. If the folklorist in this Inquisitr article is to be believed, Ronald McDonald will rise again to delight burger lovers worldwide.
[Featured Image by 1000 Words/Shutterstock]