The Fourth of July celebration in the town of Sheridan, Ind. drew national attention after it featured a float in which an effigy of President Obama in a toilet was depicted with the words “Lying African.”
The float prompted widespread outrage among the town’s officials, some residents and online users, who have called the display racist.
However, Don Christy, the float’s creator, said he thought the float was “funny.” The 73-year-old wore a prison jumpsuit and a blond wig while driving a golf cart in the parade, according to the Indianapolis Star. The roof of the cart bore signs in support of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The Obama doll was situated at the back, stuffed in a toilet labeled with the words “Royal Flush” which sat above the divisive “Lying African” sign.
Christy said he tries to put on a laugh-inducing display every year. For example, last year he dressed as a homosexual, he said.
“Me and a guy got married [during the parade]. It was funny,” he told the Star.
“My intent was to satisfy myself, see laughs over here, see people frowning over here, see people cheering over here,” Christy told the local Fox affiliate. “It’s a diverse country.”
Many people aren’t laughing at his latest project, however.
“I was red-in-the-face mad. I thought it was racist and disgusting,” parade attendee Leslie Noe told the local Fox affiliate.
Officials such as Sheridan Town Council President David Kinkead also denounced the float.
“I am deeply appalled by the blatantly disrespectful and racist display that took place at the Lions Club Fourth of July parade in Sheridan,” Kinkead said in a statement. “As a community, we are profoundly saddened by the discomfort, anger, and humiliation this individual has caused for so many.”
An unapologetic Christy denied that he was “racist,” but said he is a “patriot” who disliked political correctness and was simply exerting his First Amendment rights to free speech.
“I have my right to say things,” Christy told the Star. “Isn’t that what the Fourth of July’s about? Freedom.”
He grudgingly added, “I apologize to anyone I offended, which would be a total liberal.”
Lions Club representatives and other officials told the media they could not explain how Christy’s float, which was not registered, was allowed in the parade.