Holiday events bring cheer to Quad Cities

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The holiday festivities kicked off in the Quad Cities Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

The cold temperatures didn't stop hundreds of people from gathering for the Festival of Trees parade in downtown Davenport.

A large float of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer led the way through downtown davenport as crowds sang together in harmony.

Shortly after, people took shelter from the cold and walked down the street to the Rivercenter for the Festival of Trees.

Smiling faces and Christmas decorations were in full supply as families came together to admire the season.

Some of those visiting were foreign exchange students who witnessed the festival for the first time.

Danefh Badlani is a foreign exchange student from Pakistan, and is attending his junior year of high school in Davenport. He was shocked by the similarities between Pakistan and the United States during the Christmas season.

"We also celebrate Christmas in our country," he continued, "I see these trees and it's pretty amazing," said Badlani.

Also amazed by the shining trees was Jordan McKinley of Bennett, Iowa. He, his wife, and three children visited the Festival of Trees for the first time Saturday.

"I just enjoy the festive atmosphere and the number of people that have come out is very neat," McKinley said.

Later that night, was the annual Lighting of the Commons at the John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline.

As temperatures dropped near the single digits, crowds of people still swarmed to the commons for the traditional lighting ceremony.

Children singing Christmas carols echoed off the pavilion as people drank their hot chocolate and prepared for the commons to light up.

Michelle Oliva told News 8 she comes to the event every year and is never disappointed.

"I love the music and the lights," she continued, "and then you have the fireworks and everything comes together and it's just great," Oliva said.

Several people gathered inside of the pavilion and gift store to take shelter from the frigid temperatures, while others braved the cold for hours.

But a bit of warmth was brought to those who were patient. Santa Claus and WQAD's Denise Hnytka led the countdown for the lights to be turned on.

Hundreds counted down together, and in seconds, downtown Moline was transformed into a bright winter wonderland.

The evening was completed with fireworks shooting into the sky, while family and friends gathered together in awe.