Lake County, OH – The Lake County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) took down a social media post showing two of its Mounted Unit’s horses dressed up as ghosts for Halloween after some members of the community likened the costumes to those worn by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
The two LCSO Mounted Unit horses were draped with white sheets and had holes cut out for their ears, eyes, and noses, photos showed.
They were also adorned with strings of festive orange pumpkin lights.
“The riders thought, ‘What a great idea to have big ghosts going down the street,’” Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno told WJW. “As the horses went down the street, they were lit up for Halloween.”
“To tell you the truth, the community loved it,” Sheriff Leonbruno added. “Kids said they were great ghost horses.”
After the LCSO Mounted Unit returned from trick-or-treating with the community’s youth, the department shared photos of the night’s events on its Facebook page.
Among the photos they shared were images of the “ghost horses.”
The images were taken down a short while later after the LCSO began receiving negative comments likening the horses’ costumes to the KKK, WOIO reported.
“That was a poor execution for a ghost,” one anonymous Lake County resident told WJW. “You go back and look at pictures of the Ku Klux Klan, it’s like the exact replica of what the horses looked like.”
Local resident Katelynn Gurbach said the horses’ costumes never should have been approved in the first place.
“Is there nobody on staff that is like, ‘This is not a good idea?’” Gurbach told WJW. “A sheriff’s office should be out there protecting people, and if I saw that on my street, I would be terrified.”
Sheriff Leonbruno ultimately released a statement about the ordeal, assuring the community that the LCSO was not trying to offend anyone, WOIO reported.
“There was never any intention to be insensitive to the negative perception some people took in the image of ghost horses, and we apologize if any person was upset,” he said.
“Monday night was Halloween and we had our mounted unit out interacting with our residents, especially the children trick-or-treating,” the sheriff continued. “If you look closely at the daylight photos of the ghost horses you will see Halloween lights on the outside and underneath the white blankets. When they were lit up at night you could see they were all about Halloween and intended to be ghost horses walking the down the street with the trick-or-treators.”
Sheriff Leonbruno noted there was “an overwhelming positive reaction” to the photos when they were first shared online.
“However, a few negative comments were posted saying the horses were dressed as KKK. Since this was never our intention we took down the posting within 2 hours so such misperceptions would not continue,” the sheriff explained.
Sheriff Leonbruno went on to point out that there are many similar costumes online that are “sold to make horses appear as ghosts.”
“But again, there was no intention to be insensitive to people and their misperceptions of what the horses represented, and for this we apologize,” he concluded.