, that symbol of Kansas City’s rough and tough ties to the land and to nature, canceled its annual parade on Saturday because of weather.
It wasn’t rain but fear of lightning that caused officials to announce late Friday afternoon they were aborting what would have been the 88th procession of horses, Boy Scouts, marching bands and Future Farmers of America.
“We had a pretty extensive discussion about thunderstorms with lightning in the morning and that’s just a risk we can’t take,” said Jeremy Povenmire, director of sales and marketing for the American Royal Association.
The National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill put the chance of rain at 80 percent before 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re not expecting anything violent,” said Ryan Cutter, a meteorologist at the weather service. “But lightning is dangerous.”
The American Royal ProRodeo will be held as scheduled at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hale Arena.
This year’s parade was expected to have more than 100 entries with 4,000 participants. The parade was to begin at 9:45 a.m. and proceed up Grand Boulevard from Pershing Road to Truman Road. The theme was to have been a tribute to America’s armed forces. A flyover by the Commemorative Air Force also was scheduled.
The parade entries were notified Friday of the cancellation, which was made in consultation with this year’s sponsor, Cerner Corp.
“We regret having to make this decision, but feel it is in the best interest for the safety of our participants and spectators,” the Royal announced and posted on its website Friday.
Tens of thousands of people had been expected to line the parade route.
Povenmire said the parade was just too big an event to try to reschedule this year.
For years, the American Royal Parade was held in November, when cold and damp weather was the norm. In 1994, the parade was moved to October when the weather is usually better.
Povenmire said American Royal officials could not recall the parade ever being canceled before.