Ronald McDonald to take a break due to creepy clowns around the U.S.

Ronald McDonald

WASHINGTON (UPI) — There are plenty of people who are generally creeped out by clowns, but recent reports of clowns threatening children and random people have raised a lot more concern about those dressed in facepaint, giant shoes, and wacky clothes.

In response to the growing public concern about clowns, McDonald’s announced Tuesday the company would downplay mascot Ronald McDonald‘s role at community and family events for the time being.

Ronald McDonald has been the fast food restaurant’s mascot since 1963 when he was played by former Today Show host Willard Scott. Although McDonald has been criticized for encouraging children to eat unhealthy food, he also has become significantly recognizable around the world because of his prominent use in marketing.

The company said in a statement it was being “mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities” and would “be thoughtful with respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events for the time being.”

There have been clown sightings reported in 13 states, including one seen this week clinging to the back of a public bus and another in August that was wandering around Green Bay late at night.