The float he entered in the Indiana parade included Trump-Pence campaign signs and phrases including “Benghazi” and “Liar liar pants on fire.”
There was also this: At the front of the float sat a miniature Easter Island head, spray-painted black and labeled “Obama.”
Linkmeyer told ABC affiliate WCPO that he has pilloried countless political figures over the years; the float he showed off Saturday was intended to be a joke, he said.
“Could have had Donald Trump in the electric chair,” he said. “It was a toss-up.”
“It’s all in fun,” he added to the station. “Laughter is the best medicine in life and this country needs more laughter — and the people that are offended by it, I’m sorry. Don't come to the parade next time.”
Not everyone in the Ohio River town 35 miles west of Cincinnati finds Linkmeyer's humor funny.
Penny Britton, a mother of five who has lived in Aurora with her husband for more than a decade, was outraged by the float, which she called “disgusting” and “racist.”
“I know a half-dozen minority children that were marching in that parade and even more sitting on the sidewalk watching it go by, and this is the message we are sending to our children?” she added. “I don't see how anyone could look at the statue on the float and not say it was racist.”
She added: “I wouldn't care if it was Donald Trump in the electric chair, and Hillary pulling the switch — it's not okay.”
Britton didn't attend the parade, but as soon as she saw photos of the float she made phone calls and sent emails to Mayor Donnie Hastings, the parade committee and the Aurora Lions Club, which organizes the parade. She hasn't heard back from them, but the mayor's office and the Lions Club both released statements following the parade.
Britton said the only response she received came from people sending her nasty messages on Facebook after she posted a photo of the float and spoke about it to local media.
“People have been sending me hateful messages for several days now,” she said. “They're telling me I don't belong here, and that if I don't like it I can leave. People have told me this is why they don't like it when outsiders move to their town, and I've been here 10 years.”
Unsettled by the hateful messages, Britton said she and her husband are now sleeping with a shotgun beside their bed.
“The KKK marched in the parade until the '80s,” Britton noted. “This town has history that goes back for generations of racism and bigotry. It's something that nobody likes to talk about.”
She added that some students at her son's high school drive pickup trucks outfitted with Confederate flags.
The theme of this year's Aurora Farmers Fair parade: “Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future.”
In a statement, the Aurora Lions Club expressed regret for including a display that “offended some viewers.”
“The parade is a public venue which does not reflect the views of the Aurora Lions Club,” the statement read. “As a member of a worldwide service organization, we are proud and stand by our record of service to this community. We appreciate the high levels of support and the esteem given to us by our citizens. We will continue to do our best to live up to their standards. We hope the political circus of this year's election stays with the national media.”
According to parade regulations, fair officials “reserve the right to reject or evict any entry from the parade lineup that they deem unsuitable.”
In a statement, Hastings, the mayor, called the Farmers Fair “the pinnacle of our city's year” and noted that city officials are not involved in selecting float participants.
“We are disappointed that the actions of a few individuals have taken the focus away from what was otherwise a very successful 108th Aurora Farmers Fair,” his statement said. “The Aurora Lions Club is the leading charitable organization in our City. The City of Aurora refuses to believe that this particular float is in any way a reflection of the Aurora Lions Club or its members.
“The imagery portrayed by the float is simply not consistent with the values of our citizens or who we want to be as a city.”
But at least one local official — Patrick Schwing, at-large city councilman — said Aurora has nothing to apologize for and blamed the controversy on “a lot of whining and crying.”
He said people “can't walk down the street” anymore without offending someone. Schwing also dismissed the idea that the float might send the wrong message to children and minorities, before raising his voice and saying, “I'm not a racist!”
“Nobody hates blacks, and yet Obama is telling us we hate blacks because we're white, and it's bulls---,” he said.
“I don't see how there's any thing racist involved with the float,” he added. “I didn't even see the little black thing at the front that people are bitching about until afterward. Nobody even noticed it.”