Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

November 22, 2013

Under the red hair of Ronald McDonald

There is only one Ronald McDonald in the world.

Whether you saw him at the opening of the new McDonald's in Knoxville a couple months ago, watched a McDonald's video, starring Ronald, as a child, ir when you see him riding on a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade next week, all of these appearances are done by the same man.

Ronald McDonald – the only name he offered – has been working as the famous fast-food clown since 1962. Clowning was nothing new to him at the time, either. His family has been in the business for generations, dating back to circus performances before they emigrated to America from Blackpool, England. Ronald has always loved the family business and still does to this day, but like any clown, the immediate answer to our question was a joke.

“When you look like me, you don't have many options,” Ronald said in a voice that overflowed with the genuine joy and the love of interacting people that was prevalent throughout the entire interview.

Making people happy and seeing people smile have made every year he has put on the makeup extremely rewarding. Each time he has stepped into the big red shoes and bright yellow outfit has been intended to be “just one more,” but that has not happened.

“I keep doing 'one more,'” Ronald said. “I retired twice already and here I am, back in the shoes.”

The first time he stepped away was 13 years ago. He was brought back when a production company called him to participate in a new commercial. The longest he has been out of the makeup was a six-month sabbatical, but he missed talking to people, the crowds and doing what he loves.

This year, Ronald has visited all 50 states and 17 countries.

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