1. Stage

Balloon Boy family makes video supporting Donald Trump

The cast of "American Chilly" rehearses in a Hudson warehouse Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. From left is Bradford Heene, Greg Gebauer, Falcon Heene, Johnny Vegaz, (Dressed as a sheriff), Dean Pskowski, Jennifer Pskowski and Madeline Smyth. Behind the drums is Ryo Heene. American Chilly is a musical performance that features heavy metal music, acting and audience participation.
Published Aug. 6, 2016

Say this for the Heenes, a cheery stage dad who with his wife and three sons have been promoting the "world's youngest heavy metal band" for a couple of years now: They are persistent.

The family, once at the center of the most notorious hoax in recent history, on Thursday uploaded an original song and video supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump.

The Heenes were stamped onto the national consciousness nearly seven years ago, when they lived in Colorado. Anyone within earshot of a television Oct. 15, 2009, remembers the footage of a lonely mylar weather balloon, shot from trailing helicopters at 7,000 feet. A nation watched in horror, fearing a 6-year-old boy was trapped inside.

Falcon Heene, it turned out, was actually hiding in the garage. His father Richard served jail time for the stunt, which he said was a misunderstanding and detractors said he had created in order to land a reality show. The family moved to Spring Hill, where the parents homeschooled Bradford, now 16; Ryo, 15; and Falcon, 13. They recently moved again to Marion County, where they continue to rehearse and promote their music, and work on remodeling projects. The construction work is part of the reason they have gotten excited about Trump, their father said.

"I would have to say that his slogan, 'Make America great again,' he really believes that to a T," said Heene, 54. "As a businessman, he has got to deal with people on a business level, not greasing his palms doing favors."

The Heenes attended a Trump rally in Jacksonville on Wednesday that drew 15,000. The boys uploaded a video they edited the next day, The Youth of America for Trump, a three-and-a-half-minute hodgepodge of furious metal riffs and scores of images containing crudity and cleverness.

The video opens with Trump taking the stage before a cheering multitude. Images skip from graphics about nuclear bombs; a shot of Hillary Clinton at the "Demonic National Convention;" a "sold out" stamp on Bill Clinton's face; Hillary boxing with Trump in a ring, burning an American flag or rubbing elbows with a Saudi bigwig.

It then cuts to Trump at a rally, Trump holding an eagle; right-wing radio host Alex Jones dancing, blogger Matt Drudge's mouth moving in time to the song; Trump with the eagle again, Trump giving a speech; a cherub urinating; a semitrailer crashing; something about a wall; American flags; Revolutionary war soldiers; planting the flag at Iwo Jima; Trump in a Superman costume; the word "FREEDOM," wrapping up with making America great again as a crowd chants Trump's name.

The song with Falcon's vocals (which are good) references Trump and Alex Jones "telling it like it is," as opposed to "Crooked Hillary," rigged elections and how no one is going to take their guns away. The band has been playing gigs around Florida since 2014. In October, the group rented the Mahaffey Theater to stage American Chilly, an original musical that flopped. Richard Heene, whose work has consisted of remodeling jobs and managing his sons' band, still hopes to tour a shortened version of the show.

For now, Heene said, he has a more immediate goal: "Hopefully, to get Donald Trump elected."


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