A boat displaying the anti-Biden slogan "Let's Go Brandon" was disqualified from its first-place finish in a Virginia parade contest.
A panel of judges for Yorktown, Virginia's annual Christmas boat parade on Saturday awarded Captain Bill Berger's 50-foot craft, Southern Rock, "best of show" for its light display, which included the popular slogan and the initials "FJB." After receiving complaints from some residents, however, the parade's sponsor, the Yorktown Foundation, rescinded the award, saying the boat's "overt political message" could jeopardize the nonprofit's tax-exempt status.
"While we recognize that political divisiveness is a factor in our daily discourse, we DO NOT want it to negatively impact anyone's enjoyment of our community events," the foundation said in a statement. "We regret that this incident occurred, and we will work to avoid such events in the future."
"Let's Go Brandon" has become a popular anti-Biden rallying cry at public events across the country. The slogan comes from an October NASCAR interview in which an NBC Sports reporter incorrectly claimed attendees who chanted "Fuck Joe Biden" were saying "Let's Go Brandon" in support of driver Brandon Brown.
Berger defended his light display, saying event organizers were aware of his boat's anti-Biden theme. The boat captain also said "FJB" stands for "falling Joe Biden," saying, "If you choose to interpret ‘bad words' that's on you." The boat included a display of President Joe Biden falling off a ladder.
"We have a horrible president," Berger told a local news affiliate. "Is it inappropriate? In today's world, I don't think so."
Yorktown Foundation director Walt Akers, who led the effort to strip Berger of his prize, admitted the captain's boat display was "beautiful."
"The guy did a great display. If it wasn't just for this political issue, I think the guy would have had a very good chance," Akers told a local news outlet. "The crowd was very responsive to it, and I think it's possible the judges may have responded to the crowd activity."
"Some shoreline spectators joined the boat crew in the ‘Let's go, Brandon' chant as the vessel passed," Virginia's Daily Press reported.
The parade committee has awarded the "best of show" prize to the second-place finisher, a display called "Peace on Earth." Berger, meanwhile, says "Internet people" are attacking his boat and crew over the anti-Biden display.
"What I regret right now is the attacks," Berger told a local news outlet. "The attacks from the Internet people to the people on my boat. … I've got my people, my crew getting threats now. I've had people telling me they hope my boat sinks. That's like telling somebody that I hope their house burns down."