Artist apologizes for Holley float that sparked uproar

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HOLLEY, N.Y. (WROC) – The creator of an offensive float that was part of a parade in Holley this past weekend is apologizing.

“My intentions weren’t bad, they were good but I definitely apologize to those who might’ve been offended by it. Absolutely!” said Peter Gewerz.

Gewerz says he has learned from the experience and will be more careful in the future.

“I’m still an artist, I’ll still do my stuff but I’m going to be very careful and think about things before I do certain things from now on” said Gewerz.

He tells News 8 he didn’t intend to create anything racist. However, parade-goers say they were shocked to see Gewerz’s float which depicted a black child strung up on a tree with handcuffs on the mannequin’s arm.

“I’m not sure what the theme was or why it was even allowed,” wrote Facebook user Adrianna Shepherd, who shared photos of Gewerz’s float.

Village officials told News 8 that Gewerz has appeared in the parade in the past and there were no prior complaints. They say if they knew Gewerz was going to have anything like this on his float, they wouldn’t have approved his application.

The village mayor tells News 8 that, due to other festivities to celebrate the anniversary of the canal, they weren’t able to perform a final check of the floats. He says they will make the a priority going forward.

This is not the first time News 8 has spoke with Gerwerz. Gewerz is often seen around Rochester and the Holley area with his vehicle covered in strange displays. In December, News 8 spoke with Gewerz to discuss the Christmas decorations he’d put on his vehicle.

Full statement from Mayor Sorochty

It has come to our attention that one of the parade participants had display material on their float that offended many people. I have spoken with this person and he claims that he had no intention what so ever of displaying any kind of racist or offensive message. I have also spent the last day looking into the matter, keeping in mind that we had several committee members all who were responsible for a variety of aspects of this fast growing event. The bottom line is that when this individual arrived we clearly did not perform a thorough review and scrutinize the float content.

This event is supposed to be an opportunity to celebrate our community and the floats are supposed to family friendly. The fact that this happened is very saddening to me and for all those that were disturbed and offended by this float I am sorry. Please note that neither the Village of Holley nor our Community Events Committee would ever approve of any offensive content for our festival.

Our committee has done a wonderful job pulling this festival together and growing it the last two years and I hope that this one incident does not take away from what a great day it was. Our committee has only done this now for two years and we are learning each year how to improve the operations of this event. Going forward we will absolutely have an individual dedicated to performing a final check on all floats to ensure this does not happen again. Thank you for your understanding.

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