Caitlin Dineen, Fay Observer, July 5, 2013
Several spectators at the Hope Mills Fourth of July parade have complained to town officials that they’re offended by a float that appeared in the parade Thursday.
In the parade that went through downtown Hope Mills, a float carrying a bed full of watermelons was attached to a John Deere tractor. A Confederate flag was attached to the back. On each side, there were two small white signs. They said “White History Month” and “hug wht ppl.”
Town officials have received about a dozen phone calls or emails about the float. Others have voiced concerns on the Facebook page of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department as well as on social media.
The float was one of eight entered by Donnie Spell in Thursday’s parade, said Kenny Bullock, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Bullock said Friday he had asked a member of Spell’s family to take the signs down before the parade started Thursday morning. He said he does not know why they did not comply with the request.
He learned the signs were still on the tractor midway through the parade when people started calling his cell phone, he said.
All floats in town parades are entered through the Parks and Recreation Department, Bullock said. He said the application process includes a brief description of what a float will include. Those signs were not included in Spell’s application, he said.
Bullock said Spell has entered tractors in the town’s parades, which also includes a Christmas parade, for years.
The board plans to review the application process to ensure it does not happen again, Warner and Bullock said.
Bullock said recreation officials will make recommendations to the commissioners about how to better screen floats 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.”