Event organizers for the 40th annual Popcorn Festival in Valparaiso, Indiana, are being ripped to shreds online over a “tasteless” 9/11 parade float unveiled Saturday.
The controversial float featured the twin towers with smoke billowing up from them, with a black hole in each appearing to represent where the airplanes struck the World Trade Center buildings during the attacks 20 years ago.
The float also featured an audio recording of farewell messages that victims’ families received as their loved ones realized their fate was sealed.
Video taken from the parade showed people watching in disbelief as the float made its way down the street.
The float was sponsored by the Valparaiso Republicans.
“We worked so hard to show our love, respect, our sorrow and respect to all the 9/11 victims, the soldiers who died in Afghanistan and our first responders,” the Valparaiso Republicans said in a Facebook post.
Porter County GOP Chairman, Michael Simpson, issued a statement apologizing for any disrespect the float may have shown.
“We wished no disrespect and regret that our tribute to the lives lost and those who continue to serve was to some perceived in bad taste,” the statement said in part.
One critic described the float as “beyond tasteless even without the fog machine going.”
“Did you really play the goodbye phone message recordings of the survivors??” they wrote. “Who thought that was a good idea??”
“What in the hell were the Porter County republicans thinking?” wrote another commenter. “This video made me nauseous.”