Donald Trump's "working vacation" in New Jersey ruined a surprise skydiving spectacle for 250 kids at a day camp after the Secret Service denied clearance for the event.
For more than three months, the Tamarack Day Camp in Randolph, New Jersey, had planned a huge surprise for their color war "break" — a common camp tradition which signals the start of a competition between the kids, and which usually involves an elaborate spectacle for the children to enjoy.
This year's color war "break" at Tamarack Day Camp involved four skydivers dressed as superheroes who would jump down from a plane and "rescue" the kids from "bikers" who drove into camp, Jessica Grannum, the camp's assistant director, told BuzzFeed News.
Grannum said that months of planning had gone into the surprise, which had been set to unfold on Wednesday morning.
But a few hours before the event, Grannum said the Secret Service denied clearance for the plane, as it would have entered the no-fly zone created around Bedminster for Trump's 17-day vacation at his private golf club.
"This morning, we had the FAA clearance, the sky divers were ready on the plane and then the Secret Service shut us down for the no-fly zone," Grannum said. "Which was really sad."
"We had 250 kids" — aged 3 to 12 — "on the ground waiting for this to happen," Grannum said. "We were shocked and disappointed. We felt really let down."
Grannum said that the skydiving company — Skydive Sussex — had already received clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the plane into Randolph.
She said that the campsite the plane was set to fly into was only one-tenth of a mile within the 30-mile no-fly zone issued by the FAA on Aug. 2.
Grannum said that a representative from the skydiving company told her that they were in a conference call with the FAA and the Secret Service on Wednesday morning.
"The FAA was fighting for us, but the Secret Service wouldn't even listen," Grannum said, relating what the Skydive Sussex official told her.
She said that while the camp counselors and staff felt let down, they didn't lose money. But the skydiving company did "lose business and a large amount of money," according to Grannum. "It's really not fair to them," she said.
The FAA did not comment on the incident and directed BuzzFeed News to the Secret Service. The Secret Service directed BuzzFeed News to the FAA. The White House and Skydive Sussex did not return requests for comment.
The camp even decided to use its Twitter account for the first time to directly appeal to Trump to allow its skydiving surprise to take place.
"It was really just five minutes that he needed to give us," Grannum said.
But it didn't work. So instead of the superhero skydivers jumping down from a plane, some of the camp staff dressed up as superheroes and fought off the bikers from a fire engine.
"What was really sad as well," Grannum said, was that the actual superhero costumes were with the skydivers, so some of the camp's staff hastily got masks and collected other costumes to wear at the last minute on Wednesday.
The camp called local fire departments and arranged to borrow a fire engine from which the superheroes chased the bikers away.
"It was a bit of a letdown," Grannum said.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
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