Even Ronald McDonald is feeling the heat as menacing clowns terrify Americans from coast-to-coast.
The beloved mascot will be keeping a low profile until the current nationwide hysteria blows over, company officials who've been eyeing the wave of clown sightings said this week.
"McDonald's and franchisees in the local markets are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities," spokeswoman Terri Hickey said in a statement on Tuesday.
The move comes weeks after an incident in Greenville, South Carolina, where reported sightings of creepy clowns scaring children in the woods in late August began what has since become a cavalcade of similar news reports nationwide.
While the Greenville incident — several sightings outside an apartment complex that's home to many children — has never been totally explained, many subsequent reports appear to be nothing more than the result of pranksters piggy-backing on widespread clown fears.
For instance, a Wisconsin couple late last week was arrested on suspicion of child neglect after cops pulled them over for allegedly harassing motorists while dressed as clowns as their 4-year-old daughter sat at home alone.
The fear is real, though, and McDonald's isn't taking any chances with its top clown.
"We are being thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald's participation in community events for the time being," the McDonald's statement said.