Marshalltown, you did it. Entertaining thousands of RAGBRAI participants took months of planning, dozens of volunteers and a lot of good, old- fashioned hard work and sweat.
What our team of reporters felt on Wednesday was a sense of community pride. By visiting with the riders, either on Main Street, at a campground or on a shuttle bus, we lapped up the compliments about Marshalltown.
Comments like, "this is the best stop yet" and "your downtown is amazing" were frequent. The praise for the local RAGBRAI volunteers was high, as was the appreciation for the campgrounds and hospitality.
Everyone who was out and about saying "Welcome to Marshalltown" this week made a difference.
But perhaps the greatest praise should be for Marshall County Emergency Management, headed by Coordinator Kim Elder, who developed and executed a flawless plan for severe weather Wednesday night.
As the storms moved in, shelters were opened for our visitors. Volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure each of the thousands of riders were safe as lightning stuck and wind howled through the downtown venue intended for an evening of entertainment. Law enforcement, RAGBRAI committee members and volunteers, business owners and church leaders opened doors, ushered people to safety and worked well into the night to assure everyone got where they wanted to go.
These same people had worked from the early hours of the morning, in triple-digit heat, to welcome the RAGBRAI crowd. They pushed on through the night, and many were up the next morning to see them off.
The dedication of the RAGBRAI coordinators and the many community leaders is commendable. Congratulations Marshalltown on a job well done.