Controversy surrounds float in Hope Mills July 4 parade

This float rode in the Town of Hope Mills Fourth of July parade and was subject to backlash from several who thought it was racist. The Hope Mills town board apologized and said it will implement new policies for floats.

July 5, 2013 8:15:01 PM PDT
A Fourth of July parade float is coming under fire after residents believe the message was offensive at a family oriented event.

People lined the streets of Hope Mills Thursday for the community's annual July 4th parade.

A picture snapped by a parade-goer shows a man on a tractor flying a confederate flag and pulling a wagon loaded with watermelons. A sign on the trailer read: "White History Month. Hug WTE PPL."

Town officials told ABC11 that farmer Donnie Spell applied for and received a parade permit. However, officials said Spell told them he would be pulling an antique tractor with a sign that read:  "Watermelons for sale" at a nearby bank parking lot.

When ABC11 went to Spell's home, his gate was locked. A neighbor said he didn't think the man was trying to be vicious or funny.

But people that saw the float thought otherwise.

"This should be over, all that stuff should be over. I don't understand why people are still living like this," Hope Mills resident Suzanne Singletary said.

Town officials said they are considering making changes to the registration process so that this does not happen again.

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