President Donald Trump’s intensely hyped Fourth of July celebration is set to have a party crasher: the infamous 20-foot-tall balloon depicting the president as a baby in diapers.
The National Park Service on Monday issued a permit to feminist anti-war group Code Pink to display the balloon on the National Mall during Trump’s “Salute to America” event in protest of what they say are the president’s efforts to politicize and militarize Independence Day. Organizers, however, are still dealing with one hiccup — they don’t yet have permission to fill the balloon with the helium to make it float.
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The 20-foot tall “cold air” balloon depicts an angry Trump, with his signature swooping hair, in diapers and with a cell phone in hand. And it’s not the only attraction set to be featured by Code Pink on Thursday at what it’s dubbed the “Trump is a Big Baby Festival.” The protest — which the permit says can last from noon until 7:30 p.m., coinciding with a speech by Trump — is set to include speeches and distribution of literature. It may also feature a male bathing suit contest, an open mic and poetry readings, according to the permit.
The “Baby Trump” balloon first popped up during a Trump visit to London last year, and iterations of the blimp have followed the president all over the world and throughout the U.S.
Its presence on the National Mall threatens to distract from what Trump has promoted as an impressive show of America’s military might. The president announced Monday that the event will feature flyovers of military jets and stationed tanks over the objections of the D.C. government.
Trump has faced criticism for his shepherding of the event, which grew out of his desire to have a military parade similar to the one he saw commemorating Bastille Day in France several years ago. Those plans were ditched after the potential costs of such a parade were leaked, and Trump has teased the new Fourth of July celebration as an apparent replacement, and the costs of Thursday’s festivities have yet to be disclosed.
Critics say it politicizes the historically nonpartisan annual Independence Day celebration, but senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s plans, accusing reporters Tuesday of being the ones who are trying to politicize it.
Thursday’s event, which Trump has reportedly personally overseen, is already set to undergo a massive transformation from years past.
Among other changes, the White House will alter the location of the annual fireworks display. The National Park Service’s usual show will be replaced by one put on by two firms that have donated pyrotechnics valued at $750,000 by the Interior Department. Trump is also set to give a speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House is reportedly mulling a ticketed access area for VIPs, though The Washington Post reported that as of Monday many of the event’s particulars were still up in the air.
Code Pink has objected to the Park Service’s denial of its request to fill the balloon with helium, claiming that the balloon would only rise two feet off the ground, keeping it well within the 45-foot height restrictions placed over the National Mall. Logistics manager Tighe Barry said organizers were told they would need a waiver from the FAA‘s Flight Standard District Office, knocking the red tape as a “ridiculous” attempt to keep the balloon grounded.
“There is nothing dangerous about helium—there are lots of helium floats in the July 4 parade,” Barry said in a statement. “And you certainly can’t say that a 20-foot-tall balloon is going to interfere with Trump’s Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels!”
Code Pink also criticized the Park Service for not allowing their permit to be within Trump’s line of sight for his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“Regarding the location, we had requested a space on the large, empty expanse at the base of the Washington Monument that would not have obstructed anyone’s view but would have allowed the president to see the baby,” the group said. “Instead we were only given location options that were outside the line of sight.”