Update: After this story was originally published, Jennifer Martin of The Greater Raleigh Merchants Association returned Indy Week’s request for comment. According to Martin, the GRMA, which organizes the parade, did not know about the plan to hang “Tyrone the Black Christmas Fairy” from a tow truck Saturday.
“We were told it would be the ghost of Christmas Present Angel, and he would be floating over the air and not hanging from the back,” Martin said. “I can tell you we are going to have a sit-down with G105 with and their producers.”
Martin could not confirm the date of the meeting.
The annual WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade brought the customary string of high school marching bands, oversized floats and jump-roping children through the downtown streets of the Capital City Saturday morning. But one entry into the parade—a tow truck featuring a black man hanging from the extended tow arm, sponsored by radio station WDCG 105.1-FM G105—has raised questions of racial insensitivity.
"A lot of your fans won't come back to the show after this," one commenter wrote Monday on the Facebook page for Bob & the Showgram, the station's popular morning program. "This is my last post."
As the truck slowly rolled down Fayetteville Street, several station employees, including morning show host Bob Dumas, stood on its bed, cavorting with the crowd and telling jokes about the man attached to the truck, "Tyrone the Black Christmas Fairy."
According to Chris Edge, the station's operations manager, Tyrone isn't an employee of the station but a fan of the show. As of Monday afternoon, neither Edge nor Dumas knew Tyrone's last name or how to contact him.
A Bob & the Showgram post early Monday morning read, "Here is our black Christmas fairy Tyrone...at the Raleigh Christmas parade. We prob wont be allowed back!"
Edge didn't apologize for the display, saying that no one at the station had received many complaints about it.
In fact, while some onlookers were offended by the stunt, some fans showed their support on the show's Facebook page.
"Saw it, liked it, and wish I had a bat to get the candy too. LOL." wrote a man identifying himself as John Keyser.
"ppl r making it sound like he had a nuse around his neck," wrote another. "he was a christmas fairy!! if he had all his skin covered ppl wouldnt have made a deal out of it at all! b/c they wouldnt have known a difference!"
"I don't know that [racism] struck anybody. It's 2012," Edge explained Monday afternoon. "We need to be respectful to the past, but I think people see things in a more positive way now. There was a guy hanging on the back of a truck dressed as a Christmas fairy."
Edge said the float had been approved by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association. Edge didn't see the float until Saturday morning, when he rode in the parade; it was funny, he says.
The Greater Raleigh Merchants Association has not returned a request for comment.