Hope Mills enforcing parade rules after summer controversy - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

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Hope Mills enforcing parade rules after summer controversy

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Photo courtesy Michael Kenneth Photo courtesy Michael Kenneth
HOPE MILLS, N.C. -

After a controversy with a parade entry last Fourth of July, the community of Hope Mills has new rules in place in time for this weekend's Christmas parade.

The controversy last summer centered on a trailer of watermelons with signs that read "White History Month" and "HUG WTE PPL." The trailer was pulled by a tractor with a Confederate flag. There was also an easily overlooked vintage advertisement sign with a derogatory image of a black child known as a "picaninny."

After some people complained about the parade entry being offensive the town created new parade rules that were approved in September.

A proposed entry for the Hope Mills Christmas parade has already put the town's new rules to the test. That proposal comes from Donnie Spell, the same man responsible for the controversial entry in the town's Independence Day parade.

Spell said he was planning to include a sign that read "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."

All the words were written in blue, except the word "white" which was in white. Town leaders said they would only allow it if the word "white" was not emphasized. Spell said he already had the sign made, so he dropped the idea.

For the parade on Saturday, Spell will only show tractors with a Confederate flag, which he has put in the parade for decades.

"Some people might find that offensive," commented Hope Mills resident Kim Wilson, referring to Spell's parade entry and his proposed sign. "But that's taking away - he has that right to speak and do what he wants to do. He's a taxpayer."

Annette Yearby agreed that Spell's parade entries could be open to interpretation. However, she likes the idea of rules for the town's parades.

"Sounds like he's the kind of guy who wants to push it as far as he can," Yearby said. "That's why they came up with the rules. We don't want to create problems unnecessarily."

During Saturday's holiday parade, messages on floats are limited to the names of the sponsoring organizations and generic holiday greetings such as "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Chanukah."

The ordinance prohibits what it calls "expressive symbols," but allows flags including both the United States and the Confederate flags.

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Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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