June 14--WATERLOO -- Caitlyn Harris took this year's My Waterloo Days theme "Fun is in the Air" quite literally. During Friday's parade she walked down Park Avenue waving the head to a peacock above her head as thousands lined the streets.
Six others followed behind her with their own painted peacock portions.
Harris, a 25-year-old local artist, designed the piece for the Plaid Peacock, a downtown Waterloo art gallery where her work is featured.
"I thought it would be funny I guess," Harris said.
The festival's theme continued with a constant stream of hot air balloons floating over the parade. Attendees watched on in perfect 75 degree weather as Waterloo Police kicked it all off riding by on segways.
Eight-year-old Brayden Hanson got a birds eye view of all the action from atop one of the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center pillars. By the end, his favorite remained QPS Employment's float because his family friends walked alongside it wearing oversized pink glasses.
Just down from the floating peacock and funny glasses, a more serious message was being conveyed: people are more than what you see.
Exceptional Persons, a Waterloo company that provides support to around 350 individuals with disabilities, invited its members to come and fill in the blank for parade watchers with shirts that read "I am _____."
The 30 in attendance filled in their blank with things like artist, musician, movie buff, lover, friend, and Christian.
Katie Slade, a leadership team member for Exceptional Persons Inc., said the parade is kind of like coming home for the group.
"People are cheering, they know who we are," she said.
Slade hopes the parade appearance shows people that these individuals are ready and willing to work in the Cedar Valley. Members have taken jobs doing car detailing work at Dan Deery Motors, janitorial services, and clerical work at American Color Imaging Photography in Cedar Falls.
As a Dysart native herself, Slade has been coming into town for My Waterloo Days since she was a kid.
"It's been fun to watch all the creativity over the years," she said.
When the festival shared its throwback photo of the mass balloon ascension at Byrnes Park in the '80s, she said she remembered it clearly and almost felt she was there in the photo.
My Waterloo Days festivities continue tomorrow with bike races and balloons at Byrnes Park.
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