Humorists brave cold at Middletown’s Hummers Parade

A Donald J. Trump impersonator throws paper towels to the crowd at the 2018 Hummers Parade.
(Special to the Delaware State News/Sam Wilson)

MIDDLETOWN — If you live near southern New Castle County, don’t mind the cold and could use a laugh, Middletown’s Main Street is the place to be early afternoon on New Year’s Day.

Despite a wind chill in the single digits, the 2018 Hummers Parade went on as usual Monday. The always-irreverent, decades-old event is held annually on Jan. 1, drawing hundreds or even thousands of spectators and a few dozen participants, some of whom prepared beforehand with a few adult beverages.

Those taking part dress up and decorate their vehicles, with some truly outrageous designs. Every parade includes a few “celebrities,” and this one was no different, with participants mocking President Trump, outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and golfer Tiger Woods. It is definitely not, several people noted Monday, “politically correct.”

“Grand Marshall for Life” Jack Schreppler opens the 2018 Hummers Parade
(Special to the Delaware State News/Sam Wilson)

The largely informal event — there’s no planning committee, for instance — draws many people back year after year, such as Bob Wilson of New Castle.

People enjoy “spoofing the establishment,” said Mr. Wilson, who was at his 34th straight Hummers Parade.

On Monday he dressed like a Delaware Department of Transportation worker carrying a road sign in recognition of the many construction projects in New Castle County.

“A one-man gig,” he’s gone in the past as disgraced politicians — always a popular topic.

This year, besides poking fun at Gov. Christie and President Trump, others targeted North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and failed Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

President Trump was a popular topic even in 2016 when he was just a candidate for the presidency, while Barack Obama was not an uncommon inclusion during his two terms in the White House.

One participant skewered Mr. Moore, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate defeated last month in an Alabama special election. Mr. Moore was accused of sexually assaulting several teenage girls decades ago and his doppelganger carried a sign reading, “Hey little girl, want some candy?”

Hailed by a woman on the sidewalk at one point, “Mr. Moore” couldn’t resist dropping a one-liner in character, telling the woman she “is too old” for his liking.

More topical humor came from Skip Bolinger, of Galena, Maryland, who rode on a faux rocket on the back of a truck. Made from several 55-gallon drums that had been welded together, the rocket poked fun at both President Trump and Kim, who engaged in a war of words in 2017.

The truck carried a Trump flag, but Mr. Bolinger said he wasn’t for or against the president.

“We’re just comedians,” he explained.

Jay Knight, a parade participant for more than 25 years, imitated an auto dealer, selling cars damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The storm struck the United States in August, wreaking havoc along the Gulf Coast.

A parade participant rides a high-top bicycle during the 2018 Hummers Parade in Middletown. (Special to the Delaware State News/Sam Wilson)

The supposedly water-damaged car peddled by Mr. Knight included a little extra.

“The original owners are still in it,” the Smyrna resident cracked, pointing to two skeletons sitting in the front seats in the vehicle.

In the past, Mr. Knight has done designs and costumes ranging from Pope Francis to an effigy of Saddam Hussein to a float mocking former Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, whose 1988 campaign for president was derailed by rumors of an affair.

The parade started in the early 1970s with some Delawareans uniting on New Year’s Day to mock a sick friend in hopes of cheering him up. It quickly grew and has been an annual tradition in Middletown since.

It’s likely no one has been to more Hummers Parades than Jack Schreppler, the “grand marshal for life.” Mr. Schreppler now lives in Newark, but he grew up in Middletown and has been participating every year since 1971.

A float participant stays warm during the 2018 Hummers Parade in Middletown.
(Special to the Delaware State News/Sam Wilson)

“When I showed up, I had on a suit of tails, little smaller than this one, and (the organizer) said, ‘You look like a grand marshal, get up front.’ And that’s it,” said Mr. Schreppler, whose suit clashed slightly with his rollerblades.

One float drew laughs by referencing an April incident where several aviation officers dragged a man off an overbooked United Airlines flight for refusing to give up his seat. The car pulling the float stopped regularly, at which point two people jumped off and one pretended to tase the other.

Two people rode golf carts, with the first rider dressed as a lion and bearing a sign that stated, “A lion would never drive impaired,” while a sign on the other golf cart took a shot at Tiger Woods, who was arrested in May for driving under the influence.

Marijuana has been a big theme at past parades, but there was only one pot-themed float Monday.

Main Street did not appear to be as crowded as past events, likely a result of the temperatures, which two people said were the coldest they remembered for the parade. But despite the freezing temperatures and possible hangover, residents of Middletown and surrounding areas still turned out in force.

“The reason that it has remained popular is we don’t have meetings or rules, and people show up because they want to,” Mr. Schreppler said.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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