Farmer Donnie Spell, who has driven his tractor in the Hope Mills parade for years, tacked a sign saying "White History Month – Hug Wht Ppl" to a trailer filled with watermelons that he pulled down Main Street during Thursday's event, reports WRAL.
Spell's tractor also featured a Confederate flag, which officials said he's flown before during the Independence Day parade. A look at his entry form for the parade revealed that he only listed his antique tractors and a load of watermelons for sale.
"There was no mention of any type of signage," Town Manager John Ellis said to WRAL. "At the lineup, our parks and recreation director saw it. The gentleman was asked to remove it. We thought it had been removed."
Reporters attempted to contact Spell on Friday, but found the gates to his farm were locked.
"I think, if you talk to him, you're going to see it's not anything meant to be vicious," Mayor Jackie Warner said.
Warner said she and other officials have received complaints about the sign, and the incident has upset her.
"I worry that, the day and time we're in, we need – I don't want to have to say be cautious – but I think we have to be respectful of all," she said.
Click over to WRAL to read more.