A tornado ripped through Miltona in 1970, and the city has been partying ever since. Not because the twister touched down, but because the city survived and then recovered.

"It was kind of an instant urban renewal," said city clerk Kevin Lee, who was a junior in high school at the time and remembers debris flying horizontally outside his family's window.

The storm's path was a block-and-a-half wide and three miles long. It destroyed the lumberyard and café, the depot, gas station and elevator, and several homes, damaging many other buildings and farms.

Today, Miltona boasts an award-winning meat locker, a golf course, a magnet school, and a range of businesses, not to mention Miltona Tornado Days, the annual festival that celebrates the city's rebirth. Mayor Alan Bettermann said he can't think of any reminder anywhere in town of the tornado's visit, other than that the elevator was never rebuilt.

Last weekend's parade drew families that lined the streets. Children scrambled for treats and beads, foisted their finds off on their parents and scrambled for more. Politicians dispensed stickers, with kids cheerfully wearing labels from both parties.

American flags flew, veterans and firefighters marched, and Boy Scouts dispensed invitations to join their troop. A sculpture resembling the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz rode perched on a potty, thanks to Mission Mechanical, Inc., a heating, air conditioning and plumbing company in Alexandria.

By the end of the parade, overcast skies began to clear. There was no sign of a twister anywhere.