Chief Meteorologist Andy McCray had the place to himself Thursday evening, where a variety of festive holiday décor had already been put on display in preparation for the highly anticipated event.
Andy pointed out a large tree in the lobby with hundreds of toys on it that will all be donated to Toys for Tots once the festival wraps up.
He took a tour inside the main area of the festival, where rows of themed trees were trimmed with lights and other objects — including a tree themed “Merry Fishmas” decked out with lures, fishing poles, rods, reels and bobbers.
He adds, a lot of businesses chip in and sponsor trees — including WHBF, who sponsors a tree at the festival designed by the Gonzalez family.
Movies such as “Die Hard” and “Home Alone” appear to be popular themes for this year’s trees.
Other themes spotted at the RiverCenter include “Silent Night” and “Hide and Seek.”
Festival of Trees administrator Kaleigh Trammell spoke with Andy and says she and the rest of the event’s organizers are excited to have people come back to the Festival of Trees for its 36th year, adding that this year’s theme is “Oh What Fun!”
Andy took a stroll through Gingerbread Village, where a variety of gingerbread creations were spotted: a beach scene, King Kong and the Empire State Building and even a gingerbread version of the Quad City Botanical Center — which recently kicked off its Winter Nights Winter Lights event.
Quad City Arts Executive Director and Festival of Trees elf Kevin Maynard says over 100 designs are on display at this year’s Festival of Trees.
He explains why this week-and-a-half-long event, the organization’s main fundraiser of the year, is so impactful to the community.
“This event raises a lot of money for Quad City Arts. It is our main fundraiser for every year. It allows us to put over 14 artists into the public schools, which reaches over 30,00 students annually,” said Maynard. “It also allows us to put public sculptures into our cities — as well as murals, as well as pay students to create public art — among every other event that we do, so this 10 days has a lot of impact here.”
Aside from holiday displays, gingerbread houses, wreaths and trees, the event also features a high school art exhibit showcasing the creativity of students from over 14 schools in the region.
Festival of Trees events kick off Friday with the Festival Special Day: Silver Bell Social for people ages 55 and up.
Opening night festivities begin 7 p.m. with a Premiere Party featuring the LowDown Brass Band.
On Saturday, big balloons will be floating through downtown Davenport around 10 a.m. for the Festival of Trees Holiday Parade.
According to Chief Meteorologist Andy McCray, weather conditions for this year’s parade won’t be so bad.
Andy showed a preview of some of the wreaths that can be seen at this year’s Festival of Trees event.