YORKTOWN — The Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee has issued a statement regarding an entry to the annual event that contained politically-polarizing messaging.
On Saturday, Dec. 4, a boat which had lighted signs stating, “FJB” and “Let’s Go Brandon!”, both colloquialisms which are used by those who do not support President Joe Biden, was initially awarded the grand prize. Event attendees told WYDaily that they could hear “Let’s Go Brandon!” being chanted from the boat and that someone impersonating the current president was also on board.
Chad Green, chairman of the York County Board of Supervisors, and York-Poquoson Sheriff J.D. “Danny” Diggs were among the five judges for the parade. Despite numerous requests from WYDaily, neither Green nor Diggs have responded for comment.
Following the celebration, many concerned residents reached out to express the change in tone during the beloved local celebration; many of whom pointing out that it was supposed to be a considered a “family-friendly” event.
Dr. Walt Akers, a member of the Board of Directors for the Yorktown Foundation which is the all-volunteer parent organization for the parade, sent out a profound apology on behalf of the Foundation and noted that the boat would was disqualified after its theming was brought to the attention of the Foundation. He also noted that the Foundation considers itself apolitical and, by extension, so should the celebrations it oversees the committees for.
On Weds., Dec. 8, the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee took to the event’s Facebook page to issue the following statement:
“At this past weekend’s [Yorktown] Lighted Boat Parade an incident occurred that we regret. A boat participating in the parade had, as part of its decorations, an overt political statement that was not in keeping with the intended spirit of the holiday season.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Yorktown Foundation (our parent organization) and, by extension, the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee, are apolitical and must remain outside of politics.
First, we apologize to our Boat Parade participants for not providing clear guidance on the family – friendly holiday theme and the requirement for an apolitical message.
To all the spectators in Yorktown on Saturday night, we apologize about the disruption to the holiday festivities, and we especially apologize to our family and friends in attendance that may have had to explain to their children the political nature of the message.
The Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee has reviewed where our processes failed and will be making several corrections before our next parade. Those corrections will include amending the entry form to include a description of the proposed decorations; adding clear guidance on appropriate entries directly on the entry form; adding a review process of the proposed themes; and changing our double-blind scoring process to include checks and balances.
The members of the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee wish to reiterate that our mission continues to be unifying our community through a family-friendly, festive, holiday boat parade. We look forward to seeing everyone next year and wish everyone the very happiest of holidays and a Merry Christmas.”
WYDaily has reached out to Dr. Akers to see what further decisions have been made regarding how the Foundation will proceed for future celebrations and will update this story once more details become available.