Despite the unusually late date, it appears the weather will be chilly, but not too windy, for Saturday's Kwik Star Festival of Trees Holiday Parade that steps off at 10 a.m. in downtown Davenport.
"We got the bad weather out of the way," said Kaleigh Trammell, festival administrator in charge of the parade, referring to the near-zero temperatures and several inches of snow earlier this month.
Three factors that dampen the parade are precipitation, temperatures of 36 degrees or lower and high wind. Precipitation and freezing temps cause cancellation of the marching bands and winds of 22 mph or more make it difficult for handlers to control the large, helium balloons that are the parade's signature feature.
But none of those factors are in the forecast for Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, Davenport. Rather, conditions should sunny and dry with west winds of 5 to 10 mph and highs in the upper 40s.
More than 100 units are expected to participate in the parade that signals the public start of the Kwik Star Festival of Trees, a multi-day fundraiser for Quad-City Arts with displays in the RiverCenter.
Units include five high school marching bands; antique tractors from the Deer Valley Collectors; floats, including a Ruhl & Ruhl entry with live signers; the train from Wallace's Garden Center and Greenhouses, Bettendorf, Santa and 12 large character helium balloons, Trammell said.
The parade will begin at 3rd Street and Pershing Avenue, go west to Scott Street, turn left onto Scott, then left again onto 2nd Street, concluding at Iowa Street.
Among the balloons will be Po, the panda from "Kung Fu Panda," a 2008 computer-animated comedy film. It is sponsored by the city of Bettendorf, which has participated in the parade since it began, or almost that long.
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Nearly 130 people — city officials, employees and family members — will walk with the balloon, dressed in matching black sweatshirts with a white City of Bettendorf logo on the left chest and a Q2030 logo on the right sleeve. Q2030 is a long-range plan of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce to grow talent, jobs, investments and economic opportunity.
In addition, there will be a golf cart outfitted like Po's noodle stand, created by staff at the Family Museum. The stand is Po's family's business.
To sponsor a balloon costs the city $8,000, but City Administrator Decker Phloehn said the city council believes it is well worth the money for several reasons.
"First off, it's great fun," he said. "Second, Quad-City Arts has always been an organization we support, from the street art to sculptures. And we like the idea of sharing with the entire community. As a Quad-Citizen, we should support activities inside our area." And participating builds camaraderie and teamwork.
Other balloons include the Grinch and a U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet. Among the bands expected to participate are Davenport's Central, West and North high school units, as well as those from Bettendorf and Galva, Illinois, high schools.
The parade was canceled in 2015 because of an expected snowstorm that ultimately dumped 10 inches on the Quad-City area.