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Onlookers: Controversial Delaware parade was bland this year

January 2, 2020 GMT

MIDDLETOWN, Del. (AP) — Attendees of an annual Delaware parade that was criticized last year for parodying the border crisis say this year’s performance was bland and smaller than usual.

The Hummer’s Parade in Middletown went smoothly Wednesday, when hundreds of people and more than 50 protesters armed with signs decrying racism lined the streets to watch marchers parody last year’s news, The News Journal of Wilmington reported. Nearly 20 groups and several lone individuals took part in the Philadelphia’s Mummer’s Parade spoof, which the city’s website says is not affiliated with the town and is “haphazardly thrown together” by residents.

“This year’s parade sucked,” said Newark resident Janet Louise, who was echoed by several other people who said they’ve attended the parade for years. The parade usually features floats and not just people walking, driving or cycling the path, attendees told the newspaper. Middletown resident Shannon Harris said the parade was a lot more fun before last year’s display.

The 2019 parade caused officials and community activists to cry foul, saying spoofing the humanitarian crisis at the border was mean-spirited and considered to be “punching down.” The outrage led the town to appoint a parade committee, which submitted the guideline recommendations. The passed guidelines emphasize that while the town isn’t limiting the free speech of those involved in parades, the responsibility of portrayals falls to each individual. It’s unclear how that affected the parade’s organization and participation, if at all.

This year’s parade featured a nearly nude man in a box labeled “censorship.” He would drop the box to cheers from the crowd. Other participants included two people who wore snowflakes and sang about how people should leave the parade if offended and a pair of marchers dressed as Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were seen leading a man in an orange jumpsuit around by a rope on his neck.

Protesters said the 2020 parade avoided overtly offensive material and much of the negative and political takes seen last year.