SHERIDAN, Ind. – Sheridan is a small rural community in northern Hamilton County with a population just short of 3,000. Despite its small size, this town is receiving national attention for an entry in their annual Independence Day Parade.
Don Christy, 73, of Sheridan, drove a golf cart in the parade displaying Trump signs as well as Obama sitting on a toilet with the words “Royal Flush.” There was also a sign that said “Lying African.”
People at the parade took pictures of the float, and it quickly spread on social media. Many people are calling the float “hateful” and “racist.”
Leslie Noe was there and said everyone around her was laughing, but she was horrified and offended.
“It had some kind of humanoid thing with an Obama mask, and it said ‘Lying African,’ said Noe, “I just sat there for a minute and pulled out my camera… I was red-in-the-face mad. I thought it was racist and disgusting.”
But Christy said he’s done nothing wrong and he has a right to his own opinion.
“It’s obvious. I don’t think our government’s very honest… I don’t trust them. I think they’re going the wrong way with this country. I am definitely not a liberal,” said Christy, “I think you’re blowing it all out of shape.”
Christy calls himself “ not politically correct” and “old school,” and he says he is not racist.
“What is racist about it? What was racist? He (Obama) is an African, right?” said Christy.
Christy said he didn’t put “American” on the bumper of the golf cart, because his bumper is not long enough. The Trump supporter said he’s not surprised by all the reaction.
“My intent was to satisfy myself, see laughs over here, see people frowning over here, see people cheering over here,” said Christy, “It’s a diverse country.”
It remains unclear how the float made it in the parade. Elizabeth Walden, Clerk-Treasurer for the town of Sheridan said the Sheridan Lions Club organizes the parade.
Christy said he didn’t fill out forms or paperwork. He just showed up and was allowed to proceed with his float. He said he’s been in the parade in years past. In fact, last year he dressed in drag with a rebel flag on the golf cart.
As for the latest display, Christy offered this apology.
“I’m sorry if I offended them, but it’s just my thoughts,” he said.
Leslie Noe said actions speak louder than words.
“I don’t think you can say you’re not racist and then have a very racist effigy on the back of your float. It’s one thing to say ‘I disagree with Obama.’ It’s another thing to put Lying African on the back of a float,” said Noe.
The Sheridan Lions Club has not returned our request for comment made in a Facebook group.
We reached out to Lions Clubs International Tuesday afternoon. A spokesperson said the organization was still trying to get to the bottom of what occurred.
A spokesperson said the group respects all perspectives, and it is against policy for an overt demonstration of one political position.
“We are a non-political organization. Anything that would be found to be offensive should not be in anything affiliated with Lions Clubs,” said Dane LaJoye, Lions Clubs International Spokesperson.
LaJoye said Lions Clubs International is launching an internal investigation to find out if the Sheridan club intentionally violated policies. If violations were intentional, LaJoye said additional action may be taken.
Sheridan Town Council President David W. Kinkead issued this statement Tuesday evening.