McDonald’s says Ronald McDonald will keep low profile with ‘creepy clown’ sightings on the rise

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2 Sep 2000: Ronald McDonald at the launch of the new McDonalds restaurant in the casual dining section of the Athlete's Village in Homebush, Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Nick Laham / Allsport) Mandatory Credit: Nick Laham/ALLSPORT

With the rash of creepy clown sightings across the country, it’s no wonder one of the nation’s most famous clowns wants to keep a low profile.

McDonald’s plans to limit Ronald McDonald’s appearances due to the rise in clown-related disturbances around the U.S.

“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,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey told CNN in an email.

McDonald’s didn’t specify how often Ronald McDonald would appear or how his appearances will change. Hickey also said the move didn’t mean that the company’s clown mascot wouldn’t appear at public events from time to time.

Ronald McDonald has become synonymous with the McDonald’s brand, although he isn’t nearly as prominent in the company’s recent marketing as he has been in the past. While he hasn’t appeared in as many commercials of late, he’s often a visible presence at community events and visits children in hospitals.

His roots trace back to 1963, when “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown” appeared in three TV spots. In those first TV commercials, Willard Scott (who would later go on to fame as the forecaster on The Today Show) played the character.

Since then, countless people have portrayed the character in various media and local appearances at McDonald’s locations and events around the country.