AURORA, Ind. - The creator of a controversial float in the Aurora Farmer’s Fair parade depicting Donald Trump killing Hillary Clinton is apologizing.
Frank Linkmeyer says he didn’t mean to offend anyone and was just having fun. But not everyone in Aurora is laughing along with him.
The Aurora Farmer’s Fair, which is put on by the Lions Club, is the biggest event of the year in the Ohio River town 35 miles west of Cincinnati. The parade went right down Second Street Saturday with nearly 200 bands, floats and groups.
One float in particular caught the eye of some people who weren’t happy to see it. It depicted Clinton in an electric chair with Trump ready to pull the switch. The float also featured an Easter Island head painted black with a black face and a sign that identified it as President Obama.
"Could have had Donald Trump in the electric chair. It was a tossup," Linkemeyer told WCPO.
Linkmeyer says he and his brother have spoofed people in the parade for years.
"Police officers, judges, nurses, doctors, heart transplant patients — just a variety of things and the people in Aurora and the surrounding area love to see us in the parade," he said.
But they crossed the line this year, according to Aurora mom Penny Britton, who condemned it as sexist and racist in a Facebook post Sunday,
"Who thinks this is appropriate for a fair parade where children, some of them minorities and girls, are marching and playing instruments and watching? Who thinks this is something to laugh at or be proud of?" Britton posted. "This is disgusting.This makes me embarrassed to say I live here. This is Aurora, Indiana. Congratulations."
Hundreds of people commented on Britton's post, and most agreed with her.
Reaction around Aurora Monday was mixed.
"My initial reaction was I’m just appalled," Jackie Reynolds said. "For us to be in 2016 and have our President depicted as an Easter Island statue in black face doesn’t even make any sense, but it’s as racist as can be."
"He does something every year. Frank’s Frank," Patrick Schwing said. "I don’t see anything wrong with it. If anybody’s offended by it, then they shouldn’t look at it.
But Tony Moore wasn't buying that argument at all.
"I was honestly kind of shocked at the content of the float. I’m not even sure what this level of discourse was going to accomplish," Moore said. "It didn’t necessarily make sense, but I could tell that it was riddled in hate."
Linkmeyer, who says he is a Democrat, says he didn’t mean to offend anyone and next year may lampoon the media.
"It’s all in fun. Laughter is the best medicine in life and this country needs more laughter — and the people that are offended by it, I’m sorry. Don’t come to the parade next time."
Aurora Mayor Donnie Hastings says Linkmeyer’s content might have slipped past parade organizers.
In a statement released Monday night, the city said it had no involvement in selecting float participants, but believe the imagery was "not consistent with the values of our citizens or who we want to be as a city."
"We are disappointed that the actions of a few individuals have taken the focus away from what was otherwise a very successful 108th Aurora Farmers Fair," the city said in the statement. "The Aurora Lions Club is the leading charitable organization in our city. The City of Aurora refuses to believe that this particular float is in any way a reflection of the Aurora Lions Club or its members."
The Aurora Lions Club apologized in a news release a few hours later.
"The parade is a public venue which does not reflect the views of the Aurora Lions Club," the organization stated. "As a member of a worldwide service organization, we are proud and standby (sic) our record of service to this community. We appreciate the high levels of support and esteem given to us by our citizens. We will continue to do our best to live up to their standards. We hope the political circus of this year’s election stays with the national media."