Over the past few weeks, there have been a rash of creepy clown sightings popping up all over the country. At first, some thought it was a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming Stephen King adaptation IT, but that report was shot down, as these sightings keep growing and growing. Today we have word that the fast food giant McDonald's is pulling its clown Ronald McDonald from various appearances, in light of this spooky phenomena.

The clown sightings first started in Greenville, South Carolina this August, when a group of children told the police that painted clowns offered them money, luring them into the woods. The sightings began to increase more and more, spreading to North Carolina, where IT was filming. McDonald's spokeswoman Terri Hickey revealed in a statement to Business Insider that reveals they're sidelining Ronald McDonald.

RELATED: Tim Curry Fans Celebrate the Iconic Actor on His 75th Birthday
"McDonald's and franchisees in the local markets are mindful of the current climate around clown sightings in communities and as such are being thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald's participation in community events for the time being."

After the initial incident, clown sightings have become more and more frequent all over the country, with IT author Stephen King even weighing in on the issue. The author described the phenomema as a "low-level hysteria" that will pass in time, but it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, these sightings have even escalated to murder.

We reported last week that police in Reading, Pennsylvania arrested 29-year-old Avery Valentin-Bair and charged him with first-degree murder after stabbing 16-year-old Christian Torres. The victim had a clown mask similar to one used in The Purge movies that was pushed on top of his head. There is still no answer to why these clown sightings are spreading across the country at a rapid pace, but it doesn't seem there is any quick end to this scary phenomenon in sight.