A 15-year-old boy who reported seeing Ronald McDonald peering out of the window of a white van whose driver had called out for him to come over and talk in North Riverside was not seeing things.

The boy, freaked out by the incident, notified police. He told them that he was riding his bike on 14th Avenue near 24th Street on Aug. 18 just after 3:30 p.m. when the driver of a passing van called out, “Hey, big guy, come over here.”

He gave police a description of the driver of the newer work-type van and noted that he saw what looked to be someone dressed as Ronald McDonald pop his red and white, bewigged head through a window of the vehicle.

The boy’s reaction was sensible. He rode away quickly.

Based on what the boy told them, North Riverside police on Monday put out a bulletin on the Nixle alert system it uses to communicate incidents of interest to the community, asked for information and warned parents to remind their children not to approach strangers.

It turns out, however, that it actually was Ronald McDonald in that van and the driver did, indeed, wanted to talk to the boy – because the driver was lost.

Detectives contacted Ronald McDonald House Charities and learned that Ronald McDonald was scheduled to make an appearance at an event for autistic children on 13th Avenue in Broadview that afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, an organization called The Answer Inc. hosted an autism awareness event at the Broadview Park District’s Schroeder Park, which is located at 2600 S. 13th Ave. Broadview does not follow Chicago’s street numbering system, and the driver likely believed he needed to go to 26th Street and 13th Avenue in North Riverside – a location that does not exist.

Schroeder Park sits directly north of the Broadview Village Square shopping center.

“The kid was right on what he saw,” said Police Chief Anthony Garvey. “It appeared that the guy called him over to the van, when the guy was trying to ask for directions.”

This story has been changed to reflect the fact that The Answer Inc. had its event at Schroeder Park in Broadview.