New Year's Day parade sparks outrage with float depicting child in cage at 'border detention center'
An annual New Year's Day parade in Delaware has sparked outrage after one of the floats depicted a "border detention center" and featured a child in a cage.
The Hummers Day parade in Middletown is centered on political satire on the previous year's big news topics, regardless of the sensitivity of the subject, WTXF-TV reported. The decades-old tradition is open to anyone who shows up.
"There are no meetings, no organization, no group, this is just people enjoying themselves," longtime participant Chuck Sullivan told the news station. "Nothing is off limits."
Photos of the controversial float have been shared thousands of times on social media.
What else was on the float?
The float in question was a trailer with a sign that read, "border detention center."
On the back of the trailer were two cages with a woman standing guard.
A larger one had a grown man inside wearing only underwear. A child wearing a cowboy hat was inside the smaller one. There was also a toy doll inside a white wooden box.
A woman standing on the float was wearing a green jacket with the words, "I really don't care. Do U?" spelled out on the back.
It symbolized the jacket first lady Melania Trump wore when she boarded a plane to visit children at a facility in McAllen, Texas, last summer.
The jacket sent the mainstream media into a frenzy.
Metal bars separated the back portion of the trailer from the front where one woman stood reaching over as if trying to get to her child. A second woman stood behind her holding a child in her arms.
What did opposers say?
Some, including State Sen. Bryan Townsend (D), who saw pictures on social media, believe the float crossed the line because it involved children.
"I would hate for a good-natured parade to go by the wayside, but I also think it's one thing to focus on making fun of adults, it's another thing to make fun of situations involving children, some of whom are dying," Townsend told WTXF. "I think we need to find that balance."
One resident, who has attended the parade in the past, said he's happy he missed it this year.
"I've been there in the past and no problems but to hear that I'm kind of happy I wasn't there, because I would've been pretty upset with that one," Thomas Izzo said. "There's a lot of diversity in Middletown, so for people to think that way it's, I don't know, the whole thing disgusts me."
What did supporters say?
New Castle County Councilman David Carter said political satire would be bad for democracy.
"That would make it easier just to sweep the issues that get highlighted each year under the carpet. That would be bad for democracy, which is not always pretty and not always polite," Carter told the station in an email. "Policy research has shown that exposure to political satire elicits negative emotions, which in turn mobilizes political participation."
Sullivan said past parades have referenced the death of Whitney, the scandal involving Penn State's Jerry Sandusky and Tiger Woods' arrest.
He offered some advice for those who were offended.
"If you've got thin skin don't come to the Hummers," Sullivan said.