“Disturbing” 9/11 Float in the Popcorn Fest Parade

Grae Stockhausen, News Section Editor

The Popcorn Parade is a popular event at Valparaiso’s annual Popcorn Festival, a festival that is held in tribute to former Valparaiso, Indiana resident, Orville Redenbacher. This year, it fell on the 20th anniversary of September 11th or 9/11. 9/11 was a great tragedy in our country, a terrorist attack that occurred in 2001. Due to the day the parade fell on, it was directly influenced by this anniversary falling on this day.  

     Due to the festival landing on this day, the Porter County Republican Committee took it upon themselves to commission a “distasteful” float of the World Trade Centers, or the Twin Towers, with holes and red streamers on it to create smoke when turned on. Mark Simpson, the chairman of the Porter County Republican Party, claims the float was a ‘tribute’ to the 2,977 people that were killed on 9/11. After receiving much backlash, the party posted an official comment on Facebook saying, “Our Popcorn Festival float was inspired by the courage and sacrifice of those we lost on September 11, 2001, and recently in Kabul, Afghanistan. We felt it important, considering the parade coincided with the 20th anniversary of that horrible day, and that Indiana welcomed home one of the Afghanistan fallen the next day, to dedicate our float not to politics and candidates, but to the innocent civilians, first responders and brave military who perished and whose memories we’ll never forget. 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 float was unveiled a day before the parade, instantly drawing criticism and hate. On their Facebook, the committee had posted a picture of the float and had received many hate comments and backlash that led them to limit the number of comments on the post. In addition, they also deleted all the degrading comments and left the comments that complimented the float.