• 50°

Famous clown brings message of friendship

ROME TOWNSHIP — The roar from the screaming youngsters could have even deafened the crowd at a Hannah Montana concert.

But the celebrity of the moment wasn’t Billy Ray’s offspring and was just as beloved as two beef patties, special sauce on a sesame seed bun. It was the chant that told it all.

Ron-ald … Ron-ald … Ron-ald … Ron-ald …

Yes, it was that clown-faced redhead whose bouffant hair billows out to make even his size 52 clodhopper shoes look inadequate

Ronald McDonald, gold gloves, red suit and all, came to Fairland East Elementary Tuesday afternoon bringing his message of friendship, kindness and anti-bullying and got a reception worthy of a rock star.

The spokesman for the massively recognizable fast food chain holds down a speaking schedule as frenetic as a McDonald’s drive-through at high noon.

Asking to go just by “Ronald” on and off-stage the chipper clown captivated his audience with songs, magic and games stressing the importance of friendship, cooperation and self-esteem.

“Communication is the No. 1 ingredient of cooperation,” he told the students. “Believe in yourself. Be a hero to your friends. We stand up for our friends every day.”

Usually averaging two shows a day, Ronald tours the Tri-State as well as going across the country.

From fall to spring he concentrates on schools, but in the summer takes a different show to libraries for their summer reading programs. He also takes in hospitals, visits to Ronald McDonald Houses and parades.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and the kids keep me fresh and young,” the spokesman said after the 45-minute show. “They keep me down to earth and rooted. The kids want you to be there, to be a friend.”

And as the youngsters laughed, squealed and danced their way through the assembly, they showed there’s a little bit of Ronald in everyone.