CANTON, Ill. - One year ago an explosion rocked the city of Canton. It claimed the like of one Ameren worker and damaged many businesses.
That day, one year later, is still raw for many of the people in Canton. But, the community has spent every day since working together to rebuild.
One year later, Lary and Peggy Howarter had to get one last look.
"It's sad, but, you know, we just have to move on and accept it." Peggy Howarter explains.
The couple will celebrate 60 years of marriage in June. Their very first date was at the Canton Opera House.
"That was real fun and we have many fond memories of the Opera House." Lary Howarter says.
The site of the Opera House is a stark reminder of the tragic explosion. Mayor Kent McDowell says the day is still fresh in his mind.
"It's real easy when something like this happens to just walk away and forget it but these local business people said 'No, we're going to stay here, build our business back up.'" McDowell explains.
One year ago, Billy Jump's restaurant and bar, Official Time Out, had the front of its facade blown off. After nearly 3 months out of business, he was able to rebuild and make the improvements he'd always wanted. Today his restaurant is busier than ever.
"I can't say enough about our community." Jump says.
This tragic situation brought out the very best in people, who went out of their way to help the "City of Friendship" get back on its feet.
"Everybody just kind of looks after each other and that you know it's just that's just part of being in a small town you know." Peggy Howarter says.
Although there is still work to be done, the community is finding ways to build new memories.
"We're getting a new movie theater across the street over there so that'll help out, might have to go there for our anniversary." Peggy and Lary Howarter laugh.
Canton may have been down, but it is certainly not out.
"I think the future is bright for Canton and that is because of the people." McDowell says.
The mayor says he still isn't sure what exactly will fill the place of the Opera house. But, he is certain the community will find a way to make it a place for friends to gather like the Opera House once was.
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