- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014

BLAIR, Neb. (AP) - Blair residents took a break from repairing storm damage over the weekend to celebrate their annual town festival and watch its parade.

Thunderstorms that packed baseball-sized hail and winds up to 90 mph caused millions of dollars in damage in Blair on Tuesday, but residents didn’t want to cancel the “Gateway to the West” celebration.

Todd Trimpe said most people he talked to really wanted to get back to normal after they boarded up broken windows and patched leaks on their roofs.

Most of the four-day festival that ended Sunday went on as planned, although a craft show had to be canceled because of the amount of broken glass near the courthouse.

The storm mainly impacted the town’s appearance. Many homes have either broken windows boarded up or tarps on their roofs, and yard signs advertising contractors and roofing companies are common.

“The kids are looking forward to something besides being afraid of storms,” said Harriet Waite, executive director of the Blair Chamber of Commerce. “People were calling to say ‘Please don’t cancel. That’s not what we do in Blair.’ That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

City Administrator Rod Storm said most residents had made temporary repairs by the weekend and are just waiting for their insurance adjusters to arrive.

Of the roughly 100 entries in the parade, only about 10 to 15 withdrew because of damaged vehicles or more pressing concerns Saturday.

Joshua Doy planned to attend the parade Saturday even though he has a long list of repairs to deal with at his home. The hail broke 16 windows in his home and sent glass flying inside before heavy rain caused water damage.

Then after the hail slowed, Doy went to buy plastic to cover his windows but got into an accident with a driver who had a shattered windshield from the hail.

Doy said the festival offered a valuable break for everyone, and he’s just glad his family got the storm unhurt.

“Put things in perspective: They’re just possessions,” Doy said. “We can get through it.”

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