Karen Krick of Clinton called it an ideal day for a parade.
One would be hard-pressed to find many who would disagree after thousands of Quad-Citians enjoyed temperatures in the 50s, lots of sunshine and very little wind during the 21st annual Quad-City Arts Festival of Trees Holiday Parade that took place Saturday morning in downtown Davenport.
And practically no wind meant an easier day for all of those folks handling the 22 helium-filled balloons in the Midwest’s largest parade of its kind.
The balloons and their handlers walked the route that travels primarily along 3rd and 2nd streets while accompanied by beauty pageant queens, dance groups, marching bands, clowns, floats, tractors, antique cars, military vehicles and personnel, and Santa Claus.
“It was a perfect day,” said Krick, who enjoyed the event with her daughter, Katie Choate, and Katie’s son, Keagan, 8 months. “It was his first parade,” Choate said with a laugh. “It was nice. We had a good spot.”
“We try to go every year if the weather is good,” Krick said.
Choate teaches ninth-grade English at Davenport West High School, so she also came to support members of the Falcons marching band.
“Their band was good,” she added,
“I like the big bass drums,” said Pat McGuire of Colona, Ill., who was standing along the route with his children, Gavin, 10, and Brenna, 11. “We come every couple of years.”
For the record, Gavin favored the Army trucks, along with cars and animals. But then again, he hopes to enlist in the Air Force someday, so anything involving the military catches his eye.
“I like all those clowns, princesses and balloons,” Brenna said.
Jennifer Jensen of Moline brought her three daughters, Sydney, 11, Natalie, 6, and Grace, 3. Nearby was her niece, Madison Stevens, 5, also of Moline, and Madison’s mom, Shayna Stevens.
Sydney was impressed with the balloons and Santa Claus, just like Natalie, although she was also loving all of the dancing. Madison’s favorites were the “fairies and the balloons.”
“We come out every year,” said Shayna Stevens, who also had her 5-month-old daughter Emmalyn with her. “And we go to Chick-fil-A afterward. It is our tradition.”
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Jane Driscoll of Moline is the owner of Zany Janie Entertainment in Moline. Her business does everything from magic shows and face painting to making all types of balloons for parties and other events.
“We have 10 people here. The business is growing so much. We are so blessed,” she said.
Her crew was handling three large balloon puppets modeled after characters from “The Nutcracker” ballet.
“There are at least 400 balloons in each of them,” she said. “It took a team of five 14 hours to build these three puppets. We don’t make the same thing twice.”
Deere & Co. and the Bechtel Trust and Foundation sponsored the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer balloon. Derik Morgan, a community relations manager at Deere, said they sponsor a balloon every year along with Bechtel. “But this is the first year we had Rudolph,” he said.
Cindy Staebell of Eldridge, who works in Deere’s corporate offices, said the calm conditions during the parade were appreciated.
“It was much easier than in the past because there was no wind,” she said. “It is easier to keep it lined up. And it allowed us to do more spins, which the crowd likes. They clapped for us.”