| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Oct 17 Two of America's biggest
commercial brands - discount retailer Target and fast-food chain
McDonald's - have taken steps to tamp down hysteria stemming
from a recent spate of creepy clown sightings in the run-up to
Halloween at the end of this month.
Target decided last week to winnow down its
assortment of clown masks and costumes available for sale in
U.S. stores and online "given the current environment," company
spokesman Joshua Thomas said on Monday.
Although Target received some isolated consumer comments
about scary clown accessories, the decision to pull some masks
from inventories stemmed from "a conversation internally about
how we can respond to the situation at hand," Thomas told
The clown-mask culling, limited to one in-store product item
and about 10 different selections online, affected a "very tiny"
portion of Target's overall Halloween merchandise, Thomas added.
Target declined to specify exactly which products were
pulled but said those kept in stock reflected a more
traditional, less threatening image of happy, cheerful clowns.
Similarly, McDonald's and its franchise owners have
cut back in the number of public appearances being made by
performers dressed up as the chain's trademark hamburger-happy
clown Ronald McDonald during the past two weeks, according to
The fast-food chain, in a statement, cited "the current
climate around clown sightings in communities" for its decision.
Reports of menacing individuals dressed as clowns or wearing
clown masks began surfacing in late August around Greenville,
South Carolina, and have since spread to several other states,
perplexing police and unnerving parents across the country.
Clowns have been reported spotted lurking near wooded areas
or on dark roads, and even driving in cars, some brandishing
knives or waving wads of money at children. The phenomenon has
created a stir on social media, with the hashtag #IfISeeAClown
and @ClownSightings generating a large following on Twitter.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing
by Cynthia Osterman)