‘Trump Baby’ blimp takes protest to new heights
LONDON — After months of scheming, plotting and crowdfunding, Leo Murray cranked his head skyward and watched what might be the world’s most famous helium-filled balloon climb into the sky.
“What a joyous occasion,” said Murray, 41, shortly after the diaper-clad “Trump Baby” blimp took flight in Parliament Square. “Everyone is feeling uplifted by this.”
Never has an inflatable gotten such international media attention. And truth is, the blimpette isn’t all that large. We’ve seen bigger bouncy castles.
But the 20-foot blimp depicting an orange, angry, diaper-wearing Donald Trump as a baby has become the symbol of the large-scale protests that have met the U.S. president during his visit to the United Kingdom.
“It’s hilarious, and that’s good — it’s good to put a smile on people’s faces in these troubling times,” said Murray, the brains behind the blimp protest.
But not everyone is smiling.
In an interview with the Sun newspaper, conducted this week, Trump acknowledged the balloon, saying that protests like this one in the British capital made him feel unwelcome.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he told the newspaper.
Some of Trump’s supporters have gone further, calling it insulting and demeaning.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Twitter foe of Trump’s, defended his decision to allow the balloon to fly near Parliament. He told the BBC on Friday that as long as protests were safe and peaceful, it wasn’t his job to “censure” or decide what’s in good or bad taste.
For Murray, Trump’s
comments were seen as a victory.
“It’s worked spectacularly well. We’ve basically run him out of London. He’s got the message: He’s not welcome here,” he said. “If people are mocking you for being a big angry baby, possibly the best retort is not to throw your toys out of the pram.”
The idea for a Trump baby blimp came to Murray last December. He said it just struck him “like a thunderbolt. I thought, wait, what if we have a giant balloon made and made him a baby?”
“We had this idea, got some sketches, thought this is funny, and called our friend Matt, a graphic designer. And we found it funnier every step of the way. Every time we looked at the picture we were laughing, so we could sense we were onto something,” he said.
The image features an angry, orange likeness of a Donald Trump-looking baby wearing a diaper. The figure is also clutching a cellphone that has the Twitter app open.
“We thought it would be funny, and seems like everyone agrees. Literally we wanted to put a smile on everyone’s faces,” he said.
They had hoped to launch the blimp in February, when many thought Trump would visit Britain to open the new U.S. Embassy. But Trump canceled the visit, saying that the new embassy was the result of a “bad deal” and was in an “off location.”
“We had the thing made, and then it sat in a warehouse in Midlands for several months,” Murray said.
In April, when Trump’s first official visit to the U.K. was announced, Murray started planning. After crowdfunding more than $396,000, much more than they needed to buy the inflatable and get it in the air, and an online petition, he and his mates finally got approval for the blimp to fly.
President Donald Trump acknowledged the balloon, saying protests in the British capital made him feel unwelcome.