A performing arts center in Ohio is pulling the plug on Nerf birthday parties at the facility after folks complained about one of the games outlined on the center’s website that encourages kids to “eliminate the president.”
“I think it’s unfortunate that they chose that kind of theme only because of the atmosphere we are living in now,” parent Julie Berghaus told Fox 8.
The Olmsted Performing Arts center in Berea, Ohio advertised Nerf-themed events for kids and offered a selection of different games to choose from.
“These action-packed parties (perfect for a birthday or other special event) are two hours of non-stop fun centered around Nerf battles,” the description read. “Your guests will enjoy up to three different organized games.”
The selection included capture the flag, elimination, outlaws and infection. There’s also “President.”
“There is one president with body guards,” the website explained. “Everyone else tries to eliminate the president.”
Samuel Fravel, a former OPA student, told Fox 8 he doesn’t believe the game is political.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything political or a statement about politics,” he said. “I think the game is made up just for kid fun.”
Fun or not, Berghaus thinks it sends kids the wrong message.
“For kids, it’s just fun,” she said, “but they don’t realize what they are being taught subconsciously.”
The controversy prompted an apology from the Baldwin Wallace Community Arts School that took over the Olmsted center at the beginning of the year.
Director Adam Sheldon told the news site the facility is undergoing a transition and the Nerf parties are no more. The party description has since been scrubbed from the OPA website.
“As part of the transitioning, we are reviewing all of our communication sources and current programing,” he said. “I assure you that certainly does not fit into the program of Baldwin Wallace.”
Sheldon told Fox 8 the center will continue to host birthday parties, but not with Nerf guns.
“I was certainly shocked to learn this existed,” he said. “It’s certainly not something that is in our institutional values at Baldwin Wallace.”
The situation comes amid heightened political tensions and deadly school shootings in recent years, as well as increasingly violent rhetoric aimed at President Trump in the media and online.
Schools have also cracked down on students who bring anything resembling a gun to school, including punishments for a Pop-Tart munched into a firearm shape, a clear princess bubble gun, a Hello Kitty bubble gun, finger guns, imaginary hand grenades, and even a foam Nerf bullet.