MARSHALL - The timing couldn't have been worse, said participants in this year's Lyon County Relay For Life. Just as area residents were getting ready to celebrate the event's 20th anniversary, severe weather put a stop to the festivities. Gusts of wind, rain and hail battered memorial luminaries and sent people running for shelter.
"Everyone was in storm shelters when the sirens went off," said Jennifer Evans, one of the organizers of the Lyon County Relay. While there were no injuries reported as the result of the storms that passed through town, organizers ended up having to cancel the Relay's main event. As of Friday night, there was no answer yet as to whether it would be rescheduled.
"We hope to work out some kind of event, so we can still do our silent auction," Evans said.
Photo by Chelsea Lund
Judy Long holds what’s left of a luminary after Friday evening’s storm, which wiped out hundreds of luminaries at the Relay. Long was part of “Team Erica.” The luminaries that were salvaged were used to form a smaller version of the Feat at the Fairgrounds walking path.
Although the storm canceled the walk, the Relay For Life crowd is a tough bunch. Once the all-clear was given, a pork supper for cancer survivors went on as planned. The 4-H building at the fairgrounds was partly filled up with people.
Jim and Henrietta VanHyfte said the weather meant they came to the dinner a little later than they first planned. Jim VanHyfte said they were getting ready to go around 5 p.m., but after one look at the sky, "We decided not to."
It was tough to see the anniversary Relay canceled, said Becky Deutz. "They worked so hard for this." But it couldn't be helped, she said. "What are you going to do?"
"It doesn't seem to matter if we have it in June or in August," VanHyfte said - there's always a chance of inclement weather. "We had frost one year when we had it in August."
While some volunteers cleaned up outside, others salvaged some of the luminaries, which were placed in a circle near the grandstand. At the center of the circle, walk participants including Sheldon Adams and David Soderberg helped build a bonfire in a portable fire pit.
"We have a lot of committee members and Relay team members who still want to stay the entire night," Evans said. "It's one of those things where even the storm couldn't dampen their spirits."