JONESBORO — Gene Kennedy and his team from the Burt Reynolds Film Institute made a special surprise visit to Jonesboro Tuesday afternoon.

On the way home to Florida from the Detroit Auto Show, they brought with them Reynolds’ personal 1979 Pontiac Trans Am and the car driven by Sheriff Buford T. Justice from the film “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Kennedy said Jonesboro was considered “hallowed ground” by Reynolds. The city is home to many of the filming locations for the movie.

“Our hearts are here,” Kennedy said.

Crowds gathered for photos and an opportunity to lay eyes on one of Reynolds’ most prized possessions.

The late actor visited Jonesboro in June 2017 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Smokey and the Bandit.” The film’s famous Coors scene was reenacted along the city’s 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. The celebration was followed by a Q&A with Reynolds and a screening of the movie at Lee Street Park.

Reynolds was presented with a key to the city and June 24 declared as Burt Reynolds Day in Jonesboro.

“I’m mighty proud of this and I can’t thank you enough,” Reynolds said to Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day.

Though Reynolds died in September 2018 at the age of 82, “The spirit of the Bandit lives on here,” said Jonesboro City Council member Pat Sebo.

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Education reporter Heather Middleton joined the for the Clayton News and Henry Herald in 2002.