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Ronald McDonald Taking a Break in Clown Scare

Seriously, what’s going on with this whole clown scare thing? Now even McDonald’s famous spokesman is being mothballed by the whole thing!

Maybe someone can explain to me why clowns terrify people.

Sure, I saw Stephen King’s It and Tim Curry’s noteworthy performance as the murderous clown Pennyworth. If you were a little rattled during that movie, if not the book itself, I might understand. But the book and movie couldn’t have left such a general unease about people dressed up as one of the most popular figures in any circus.

Clowns come out every Halloween, along with every other conceivable character — from ghosts and goblins to princes and princesses. No one seems to freak out then.

But let one show up outside of the Halloween window and people act like there’s reason to panic!

I know that Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, is a real thing. I just don’t see why it is a thing. I guess I grew up in an era when clowns were friendly, goofy characters that did no harm.

But I am a native of South Carolina, the state that seems to have originated this current clown scare. People reported clowns that appeared to be attempting to lure children into woods near an apartment complex in the Upstate on August 21.

Since then, multiple reports of clown sightings have popped up around the country. The phenomenon, real or imagined, has since been reported across the globe. People dressing as clowns in attempts to prank people have also been reported.

It has become so serious a concern that now McDonald’s home of the Golden Arches, the Big Mac and its resident mascot, Ronald McDonald, had to get involved. And they’ve announced that their famous advertising icon will be stepping into the shadows, in a manner of speaking, retreating from the spotlight out of concern for the clown scare. The company this week announced that Ronald would limit his appearances, the Washington Post reported:

The chain’s more than 14,000 locations nationwide are “mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities” and “are being thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events for the time being,” spokeswoman Terri Hickey said in an emailed statement to NBC News.

Overreaction? Certainly. But at least the company is trying to be mindful of the fact that there are people who are actually terrified, some of them children. It certainly wouldn’t help their image to have children afraid to go to the “Happy Meal” restaurant, would it?

Incidentally, South Carolina, for those keeping score, also brought the world the “Lizard Man” craze back in 1988, when people in Lee County began reporting sightings of a large lizard-like creature that seemed to have an affinity for attacking cars, particularly bumpers.

I will never forget a report that aired on the national news about the Lizard Man and people who were gathering at “watch parties” hoping for a glimpse of him. One woman who was interviewed was wearing a tin foil hat. The reporter, naturally, inquired about the significance of her odd choice of headgear, to which the woman, completely serious, replied, “Well, we hear he likes chrome.”

Yep. That’s South Carolina.

Y’all come visit, won’t you?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.