When Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca posted on SOMa Lounge NJ Facebook group about the giant Baby Trump balloon being inflated in Ricalton Square on Sunday, not everyone applauded.
Despite voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a margin of 9-1 in Maplewood (and 8-1 in South Orange) in the 2016 Presidential Election, the towns have a very vocal online contingent of local residents who support the President — or who feel that some liberal protests go too far.
The Baby Trump inflatable — one of six inspired by the original dirigible that flew over the Houses of Parliament in London in July — was procured by the activist group SOMA Action for a protest and All Hands meeting today that corresponded with the annual Maplewood Art Walk & Music Fest in Maplewood Village.
According to Michael Paris of SOMA Action, “hundreds and hundreds” of supporters visited the balloon over the course of several hours today, many of them taking “selfies” with Baby Trump, as well as registering to vote and/or signing up for “Flip the House” canvassing in nearby Congressional districts.
Online, a few locals took issue with the balloon.
Posting of screenshot of a news report declaring “Menendez Indicted,” former South Orange Trustee Michael Goldberg asked DeLuca: “While we are mocking embarrassing politicians, is there also a blowup doll of this guy?”
Goldberg told Village Green that he is “not a Trump supporter but think it’s a shame that a community/family event was turned into a partisan political event and it was hypocritical to be shaming one person with questionable ethics (Trump) while simultaneously promoting another person with questionable ethics (Menendez) at the same time. It’s just silly.”
“Hate certainly has a home here. This is so childish,” posted another local resident.
Yet another wrote, “Vic DeLuca I’m not really all that proud of this. My 13 year old daughter asked ‘why?’ What’s the answer to that? Teaching our children criticism without a solution?”
Daniela Tumin wrote, “At best, it’s a useless, self indulgent gesture appealing to the very worst in our nature. At worst, it’s aggressively counterproductive to moving forward out of this terrible time in our country, only widening the gap between us.”
Some wrote that the mayor should be more bipartisan and not divisive. “Victor De Luca, you are an embarrassment to Maplewood, and should be ashamed of yourself for condoning this childish behavior. Your [sic] not setting a good example for the children either, but then again, you apparently are one of them!” wrote one resident who asked — as some others did — that we not use his name.
Others noted that Maplewood elections are partisan (DeLuca is a Democrat; in fact, all five Maplewood Township Committee members are Democrats) and said that the Mayor has a right to express his views.
Posted Barbara League-Velazquez, “This is a perfect opportunity to explain to children why a balloon of this madman is here. Of how he is steadily destroying the name of this nation and what it is supposed to stand for. Also an excellent opportunity to stress on children the critical need to vote. Kudos to Mr. DeLuca and the TC for supporting this ‘PSA.'”
Another wrote, “This is not a bipartisan issue. Trump and his administration are destroying everything that protects the people of our country. You’d have to be blind or deaf not to notice how every day they roll back protections all in the name of the little people but truly only the rich are benefiting.”
Yet another resident asked the Trump supporters, “Why don’t you guys put on your MAGA hats and hit the village in peaceful protest to support your president?”
By evening, the entire post was gone from SOMA Lounge — although another post on the topic remains as of publication. SOMa Lounge moderators report that they did not remove the thread.
Village Green has reached out to DeLuca for comment and will report when he responds.
For his part, Michael Paris of SOMA Action called the use of the balloon a “fun” and “lighthearted” way to “mobilize people” and said that those who were offended “should learn how to take a joke.”
(See Paris in the video below.)