Sunday was a boo-tiful day for a spook-tacular time, as several thousand area ghosts, goblins, ghouls and Harry Potters participated in the Greater Bettendorf Community Foundation Halloween Parade.
The event, which began and ended at Middle Park, circled through the city to the delight of an array of pleased parents and kids aligned along the route, catching candy thrown from more than three-dozen floats, horse-drawn carriages, cars, trucks, and costumed dancers and walkers. The parade’s theme celebrated the star student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“Every year we bring at least one of the grandkids out. It’s always a lot of fun,” said Cathi Betts of Bettendorf, who escorted her 3-year-old grandson, Mason Schafer. “And this year the weather is amazing! You couldn’t have picked a better day for it.”
Mason, delighted by the candy, the dogs and the sheriff’s car, readily agreed. “I like it a lot,” he said.
Mason was hardly alone in his estimation.
“It’s a lot of fun. I like getting a lot of candy,” said Davis Tucker, 5, of Bettendorf.
“This is our first parade, but we’ll be back next year,” said Davis’ father, Rob Tucker.
“I like all the cars and animals, and I like the Army jeep,” said Dackota Noe, 6, of Bettendorf.
“I really liked the little puppy. It was the best,” said MacKenzie Gosa, 5, of Moline.
“It’s fun, and you get lots of candy,” added Isaiah Fetterer, 7, of Davenport. “My brother and cousin were in the parade dancing, dressed as Harry Potter. It was good to see them.”
“I like the candy,” said Claire Cordell, 4, of Bettendorf.
Organizers and marchers likewise were elated at the weather, turnout, and, one could only assume, the candy as well. Parade chairman Don Wells has been in this game for almost 30 years. He started when the parade was organized by the Bettendorf Jaycees that folded in 2007 and was taken over the Greater Bettendorf Community Foundation.
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“It’s been in the same place, the same route, since I was 18 years old, so it’s got a long history with me,” he said. “I’m to the point now where I can organize it in my sleep. I sometimes have nightmares about it!”
All money from entry fees is returned as prize money for winning floats and attractions.
“We actually end up losing money because we end up putting in extra money for the prizes,” Wells said. Some of the prize categories include divisions for novelties, walking entries, floats and horses.
“The only reason we do it is for the kids in Bettendorf,” Wells said. “It’s just to give the kids a good time.
“The reason I keep doing it is because I feel it’s a great contribution to the city,” Wells said. “It’s my way of giving back to the community. It’s a big celebration of Halloween. We make a pretty big deal about it here in the Quad-Cities with all the haunted houses and everything, and it’s something people really enjoy. As long as the kids have a great time with it, honestly, to me, that’s what’s most important.”
“I liked it a lot and had a good time,” said Logan Hawkes, 6, of Bettendorf.
Mission accomplished, Mr. Wells.