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Creepy Clown Panic Forces Ronald McDonald Into Witness Protection Program Essay

Entrepreneur Editorial Director Dan Bova writes a weekly humor column for , where this story originally appeared. You can see read past columns and follow him on or for weekly updates.

What’s white, has crazy hair and is making everyone freak out? No, not . But close. .

In the last couple of weeks, big floppy shoes have spiked on the Noooooo-o-meter. From South Carolina to New York to Iowa, people in at least 14 states have been calling into police, wigged out about people in rainbow wigs roaming the streets.

In solidarity with the creeped-out masses, announced its plans to put Ronald on lockdown. A statement sent from spokeswoman Terri Hicke says that 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." Gulp!

Clown panic has spread to our schools, our restaurants and even into my home. The other night I was heading out to go jogging and my son Henry asked with genuine concern if I was worried about getting jumped by a red-nosed nutcase. I wasn’t. I was more worried about pulling a hamstring than facing a killer Krusty, but I took that as a great excuse to plant myself back down on the couch and sweat my way through some Chopped re-runs. Hamstring held up like a champ.

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Maybe I’m just incredibly brave or incredibly stupid, but what’s the big deal? I feel like at some point in the last 20 years, we as a nation collectively decided that clowns are the most terrifying things on earth.

Sure, if they’re carrying a meat cleaver they’re kinda scary, but I think that’s true of really anything carrying a meat cleaver. You give a newborn panda a meat clever and I’m running in the other direction. But just a plain ol’ clown? Eh.

If people wearing heavy makeup and idiotic smiles freaks you out, I suggest you steer clear of the Jersey Shore in mid-July.

I mean, I wouldn’t be thrilled exactly if I looked out my window at 2 a.m. and saw a dude in a clown suit standing there, but I can think of much more horrifying visitors to see lurking in the moonlight, such as:

  • A property tax assessor: “You fixed that ripped screen door and pulled some weeds? Oh yeah, that’s going to jack your value up 2 or 3 mil easily.”
  • The neighbor’s dog peeing on my tomato plants. “Oh God, we've been eating organically grown urineballs all summer!”
  • Billy Bush's Access Hollywood tour bus.

Okay, fine, I guess if I really think about it, sure, I have had some not-so-great clown encounters over the years.

The first one that springs to mind is when I was editor of Maxim and I sent one of our staffers, Nick Leftley, to go on tour with .

Not familiar with them? They are a hip-hop-ish duo that enjoyed some mainstream success in 2009 with a song called “Miracles” which featured such thought-provoking lyrics as: “Water, fire, air and dirt / Fucking magnets, how do they work?”

Long story short: everything went great until the FBI raided the Insane Clown Posse’s show due to suspected gang activity.

All I could do was recommend that Nick keep his hands in full view, make no sudden moves and Google “any good lawyers in ?” when he had the chance.

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Another clown-counter of the sucky kind came the night my then-2-year-old son Henry came down with a bad case of whatever it is that makes kids cough and drown in their own snot. Overtired and coated in goo, he was freaking out like only a 2-year-old can.

The only thing that calmed him down was an Elmo DVD starring , a guy who is basically a clown with gigantic pants instead of a wig. Up until that night, I genuinely enjoyed Mr. Noodle’s antics. Mr. Noodle’s deal was that he would always screw up some simple task, like washing his hands or putting on his shoes.

“No Mr. Noodle, not like that!” It was funny at first, but after the 45th viewing at 3 in the morning, it became a nerve-shredding nightmare. “Come on, man, shoes go on your feet, not your ears, you effen dipshit!” In desperation, I lunged at the DVD player to turn it off, Henry started crying again and the circle of Hell spun on.

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Oh, and speaking of things that never end, have you been to the Big Apple Circus? It is endless. We took our kids to it a few years back and after an hour and a half of people juggling handkerchiefs and tumblers yelling “hey!” and “oh!” the lights blessedly came up. It was over! I leapt into action.

Grab your stuff kids — ditch the popcorn, we’ll make some when we get home. I’ll buy you a soda on the way out, I’ll buy you a pony, let’s just please leave! I stood up and — wham! — came face-to-face with a white-faced, cherry-red-nosed clown. I swallowed a scream and looked around. There was a clown in every aisle. They were everywhere! Oh God, the show wasn’t over at all. This was only intermission and the clowns were grabbing people for audience participation!

I’m shaking as I type this. You know what? You’re right McDonald's, clowns are terrifying. Everybody, lock your doors, hide your pets and children, or better yet, run!

Read Bova's past columns  and follow him on  or  for weekly updates.

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