A local farmer’s Independence Day parade float in Hope Mills, N.C., led to complaints from several spectators and has caused the town to review its parade application process.
In the parade, Donnie Spell drove a green tractor with the Confederate flag hitched to the back. His makeshift float was pulling a wooden wagon filled with watermelons and had a sign on the side that read “WHITE HISTORY MONTH” and “HUG WTE PPL.”
About one dozen people complained to town officials via phone calls and emails, and others have expressed concerns on the town’s Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page and on social media.
Kenny Bullock, the director of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, said he had asked a member of Spell’s family to take down the signs before the parade started. He reportedly learned the signs were still on the float when he started to receive calls halfway through the parade.
“I believe we’ve got to make sure we’re sensitive to all people’s feelings,” Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner told The Fayetteville Observer.
Warner did not see the float during the July Fourth festivities because she was part of the parade. She later saw a photo of the float.
Spell’s parade permit application indicated that his entry in the parade would be an antique tractor pulling a trailer with signage advertising watermelons for sale in a nearby parking lot, according to local ABC affiliate WTVD.
Local officials are now considering changes to the registration process to try and avoid this type of incident in the future.
"I feel like, in my opinion, I feel like there's a time and a place for everything," Bullock said. "Was the parade the place? I don't think so."
Bullock noted that Spell has entered tractors in the town’s parades, including the Christmas one, for years.