Volunteers filled about 18,000 sandbags Sunday afternoon, their shovels moving in synchronized accord to live music at Davenport's RiverCenter.
Musicians Just Chords, Ellis Kell and Tony Hoeppner & Friends made the hard work of fighting a flood threat fun during the indoor Sandbagging Party hosted by the Downtown Partnership with the City of Davenport. More than 300 people got their muscles pumping with the partnership that is a division of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.
Free food from Antonella's Pizza and Front Street Brewery and beer from Great River Brewery provided some energy.
"Where I live in Germany, I'm not that close to the river," said first-time volunteer Felix Wrage, a student at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport.
He nimbly grabbed a tied bag and thumped the contents flat on a growing stack created by volunteers from Palmer's Delta Sigma Chi fraternity.
Seconds later, a forklift scooped up the pile, adding it to the growing stack of sandbags that will guard Davenport's riverfront.
"This is for all of you sandbaggers. ... You're doing a good job out there," singer Charity Smith of Just Chords said during a performance that danced from country to rock, to pop to a hint of rap. Everyone has a part in preparing for the flood, and hers is to contribute through music, she said.
"I am here because my mom told me to come here and to help," Lazarus Henschen, 8, said with a smile as he dragged a filled bag to another volunteer.
His mom, Ellonyia Yenney of Bettendorf, deftly tied another bag and scooted it over to Lazarus.
"I'm part of the Quad-City Rollers (roller derby team), and we played here last night and a lot of us Rollers are back here (today) with our kids and with our spouses," she said.
The Rev. Matt Temple, pastor of Connection church community, and his wife, Angie, and daughter, Taylor, hurried to the RiverCenter after the Sunday morning service. The church worships at the Redstone Room at River Music Experience.
Temple said he expected his shoulders would ache after taking his turn at shoveling sand.
Host Tom Flaherty, senior vice president for Community Growth of the Downtown Partnership, said the city of Davenport has a huge job in flood preparation, and the Downtown Partnership thought it was only natural to help.
"We thought, ‘Why not make a party of it?' " he said.
"This truly was a great example of the power of the public-private partnership. It was wonderful," he said.
Flaherty anticipates the 18,000 bags will fill Davenport's needs for flood protection. However, "if the city needs more sandbagging, we're ready to go," he said.