PHOENIX — Ronald McDonald will be taking a slight hiatus in the wake of creepy clown sightings across the United States, according to the company.

In a statement to The Arizona Republic, McDonald's Corp. stated they "are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities," adding that the company is "being thoughtful with respect to Ronald McDonald's participation in community events for the time being."

The smiling company mascot is one of the most recognizable figures in all of popular culture. The character debuted in a 1963 TV ad in Washington, D.C., and was originally played by TV personality Willard Scott. Over the years, McDonald's has faced criticism for marketing directly to children, notably through Happy Meals, toys and Ronald McDonald.

The company's shelving of Ronald follows an uptick in clown-related police calls across the nation, including several in Oregon.

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