In a move that surprised virtually everyone, the annual Independence Day parade in Mandan was canceled Friday morning. So what happened? We had the exclusive opportunity to speak with Marlo Anderson, parade co-chair, one of the decision makers behind the process.

Marlo Anderson

Perhaps one of the biggest questions on people's minds - why was the parade canceled this year instead of postponed like last year? Anderson and others evaluated the radar and saw breaks in weather, but not long enough to accommodate the size of the parade. "We did consider postponing, but in looking at the radar, we didn't see a 3-hour window in the weather where we could fit the parade in," Anderson explains. "We realistically need 3 hours to get the parade in and the worst case scenario would be to have a thunderstorm move in right in the middle of the parade, putting people in danger."

The decision to cancel the historic parade was not one that was taken lightly. In addition to Anderson and the other parade co-chair Dennis Friesz, emergency management officials, Mandan's Fire Chief and the Weather Service were all involved in making the decision. At around 9:30am, Anderson was contacted by Morton County Emergency Management and notified of reports of rain and pea-sized hail to the west of Mandan, with a potential for lightning. Follow-up phone calls indicated a serious potential for lightning, which included 15 strikes every 5 minutes. It was after looking at the lightning strike map and assessing the potential for danger, the group made the decision to call off the parade. "It wasn't a decision we took lightly," Anderson says. "There were so many people in the area, we felt it was prudent to give people time to get out of the area.

Anderson addressed the possibility of the weather clearing up once the call was made to cancel the parade, but noted the safety of parade-goers was paramount. The committee had to make a decision based on the information that was available to them at that time, which was an outlook of severe weather with more to come throughout the day.

The committee will evaluate the financial ramifications for all involved due to the cancelation of the parade. There are no plans at this time to reschedule the 2014 Mandan Independence Day parade.

Anderson could understand the disappointment and even anger of some because of the parade's cancelation, but stressed the decision was ultimately for the safety of the community. "We are concerned about safety and will always err on the side of being cautious because of the large gathering of people in our community."