Instead of a ribbon, I think they should have purchased a giant cauldron.
C.J. could have ran the 6 1/2 mile path of the tornado, Olympic-style torch held high above his head, finishing at the new high school.
Along the route, nearly all of Joplin could line the streets, neighbor holding hands with neighbor to form a giant unbroken chain. Man, woman, and child would scream and chant, "C.J.!, C.J.!, C.J.!" as he passed, knowing how close to greatness each of them came.
As he triumphantly finished the run, he would use the torch to light the giant cauldron, sending a soaring flame into the Joplin sky. All the little people gathered to celebrate would speak to each other about how the flame is like the light C.J. brought into the darkness that was Joplin before his arrival.
It would be glorious. It would be glorious.