Creepy clown craze: McDonald's mascot to limit appearance

The Ronald McDonald balloon floats down Broadway Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ronald McDonald is now to keep a low profile due to creepy clown sightings around the world

Fast food giant McDonald's says it is limiting public appearances of its clown mascot, Ronald McDonald, due to the ongoing "creepy clown" phenomenon.

Scary clowns were first reported in the US in August and have quickly spread to the UK, Australia and now Brazil.

The craze, in which people dress up in masks and scare members of the public, has received widespread attention with the help of social media.

McDonald's did not say how many of its clown's appearances would be cut.

Ronald McDonald has not commented on the move.

"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," a statement said.

Ronald McDonald, a pasty-faced, scarlet-wigged clown with an expression of permanent surprise, has been a global icon for the franchise for decades.

Image copyright Getty Images

In August, locals in Greenville, South Carolina reported people dressed in fright wigs and full clown make-up trying to lure children into the woods.

Australian police also arrested a 19-year-old for scaring residents.

A student dressed as a chainsaw-wielding clown was filmed chasing other students on a UK university campus. He has apologised saying he was "only chasing his friends".

Police have increased patrols outside some schools, and asked fancy dress shops to remove clown masks from sale.

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