October 30, 2020

‘Smokey and the Bandit’ caravan descends on Franklin

Avid young Smokey and the Bandit fan Jackson Adams (L) and his cousin Bentlie Searals (R) enjoy one of the many Trans-Ams that rolled through Franklin Wednesday afternoon (Photo: Angela Adams)

(Franklin, GA) — Heard County High School played lunch host to a larger than life convoy of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ replica vehicles, fans, and Trans-Am owners Wednesday afternoon in Franklin.

The annual pilgrimage known as the ‘Bandit Run’ passed through Heard County en route to this weekend’s 40th anniversary celebration of the 1977 film in Jonesboro.

An estimated 200 vehicles and upwards of 350 people from all over the country took part in the festivities at HHS. Local spectators and fans of the show were able to spend time speaking with the vehicle owners and score lots of neat photos in the process.

The Bandit Run is a reenactment of the journey portrayed in Smokey and the Bandit. The reenactment first took place on May 15, 2007, and has become an annual event.

In the annual commemoration of this road trip, sponsored by Restore a Muscle Car (RAMC), the Bandit Run recreates Smokey and the Bandit’s route from Texarkana, Texas to Atlanta from June 17 to June 25.

The route follows the same one  that characters Bo “Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed) made in the 1977 movie.

For the first time in the history of the event, the convoy from Texarkana met up with another local tribute group — ‘Snowman’s Run’ based out of Coweta County.

Snowman’s Run features a replica of the 18-wheeler from the movie driven by the character portrayed by actor and musician Jerry Reed who grew up in Fairburn and Palmetto.

The Snowman run was founded by Tyler Hambrick, a Coweta resident, to continue the work of Reed, who before he passed away in 2008, spent his time raising money for wounded veterans and supporting the military as they returned home.

Heard County Coroner Kathie Buchanan with ‘The Blues Brothers’ Wednesday afternoon (Photo: Ranet Turner)

The reenactment run is named for the CB radio name of Reed’s character.

Hambrick says the movie inspired him to do “runs” of his own with replicas of vehicles from the “Smokey” era. The 40th anniversary run is Hambrick’s latest run in tribute to the movie.

“I’ve been a fan ever since 1977,” Hambrick told the Newnan Times-Herald last week. “(The movie) was done so spontaneously. I’ve always loved it.” Snowman’s Run is a 501(c)3 charity that raises money for wounded veterans.

While a number of older fans who remember the movie were on hand, arguably the most excited in attendance was 8-year-old Jackson Adams from Troup County.

According to his mom 1997 HCHS graduate Angela Crews Adams, Jackson fell in love with the movie after watching with his dad a few years ago and now can quote the film nearly word for word. She says Jackson is not the ‘average kid’ and also loves other old school television programs like ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ and ‘Gunsmoke.’

Jackson was not alone in his fanaticism Wednesday afternoon as many others lined Franklin Parkway and the HCHS parking lot to get a glimpse of the convoy.

Heard High principal Brent Tisdale says the impromptu event planned just a couple of weeks ago went well thanks to the help of some local volunteers and the lunch served as a small fundraiser for the school.

“It was a great experience for us to host the ‘Bandit Run’ for lunch today,” said Principal Tisdale. “Our community showed up in force to see these awesome vehicles. The drivers were gracious enough to let our folks take pics and even sit in their cars. They were very thankful that we opened up our school and fed them. I was overwhelmed with compliments from drivers about our school building and campus, and the friendliness and hospitality of our folks.”

Members of the traveling caravan enjoyed some BBQ smoked up by Troy “T-Roy” Taylor overnight Tuesday and served by some volunteers from Carroll EMC.

Several local community leaders were also in attendance to welcome the group.

Tisdale was thankful for all the help in making the lunch stop a success.

“I’d like to thank the Heard Citizen for connecting me to the Bandit Run event leader so we could arrange this, the volunteers from Carroll EMC who helped serve lunch, Troy Taylor for the fantastic BBQ, and Chief Kevin Hannah and the Franklin Police Department for their help with traffic,” added the principal. “Overall, today showed how special Heard County and Brave Nation truly are.”

Principal Brent Tisdale (L), his son Ethan (M) and his wife Kim man the BBQ lunch Wednesday afternoon at HHS (Photo: Times-Journal)

The one plus mile convoy continued on through Coweta County and into Peachtree City Wednesday afternoon where they stayed the night.

The 40th Anniversary celebration will take place this weekend in Jonesboro and will feature a Smokey and the Bandit BBQ and Car Show, as well as a screening of the film at Lee Street Park with a special appearance by Burt Reynolds and other actors from the movie.

A re-enactment of the Coors scene will kickoff the weekend in downtown Jonesboro with a Pontiac Trans Am and replicas of Snowman’s rig.

Arts Clayton Gallery is featuring an exhibit of more than two dozen items related to the film, including movie memorabilia, original promotional items and fan-created props.

For more information visit thebanditrun.com and jonesboroga.com.

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