National News

Fans revel in Smokey and the Bandit celebrations in Jonesboro

Posted June 30

— "I need to find a door that fits this tonight," Burt Reynolds said when Mayor Joy Day presented the actor with a key to the city Saturday at Lee Street Park.

"I'm mighty proud of this and I can't thank you enough," Reynolds said while hundreds of fans cheered him on.

"We love you Burt!" fans yelled back to him.

Day declared June 24 as Burt Reynolds Day in the city of Jonesboro. Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Turner presented a proclamation to Reynolds for his contributions to Clayton County.

The presentations capped off a two-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of "Smokey and the Bandit" in the city where several of the movie's scenes were filmed in 1976. The film hit theaters in 1977.

Part of the celebrations included the re-enactment of the Coors Scene on Main Street in which Cledus Snow and the Bandit raid a warehouse for the beer. It was filmed in downtown Jonesboro and the warehouse is now Arts Clayton Gallery.

Hundreds of fans lined South McDonough Street to watch. The crowd erupted when Reynolds arrived on scene to watch the re-enactment.

Kansas City, Mo., resident Wayne Alderson drove Snowman's truck during the event. He became emotional as fans cheered him on.

Alderson said he first saw the movie when he was 7 years old.

"We love what (Reynolds) did for us as a child," he said. "We're still living the dream."

During a private meet and greet with the actor, Caye Barnett, who portrayed one of the Snowman's children in the film, showed Reynolds a photograph of them together.

"He actually remembered it," Caye said excitedly. "I got a little kiss on the cheek."

Included in the festivities was the unveiling of the "First Born Bandit." The Pontiac Trans Am was chosen by Reynolds and director Hal Needham as the vehicle the Bandit would drive throughout the movie. It was reportedly seen by the two in a brochure and decided on immediately. It was created using the 1976 body with the the 1977 headlights.

Following the day-long festival at Lee Street Park, fans gathered at Atlanta Motor Speedway to watch Hollywood stuntmen perform the Bandit's famous jump over the Flint River.

Day said she was thrilled to have both Reynolds and the anniversary celebration in Jonesboro.

"We knew it would be great, but we had no idea the response we would have," she said. "We're Eastbound and down."

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