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Visual Art

Houston Artist Makes His Thanksgiving Day Parade Debut With Whimsical Work

Now in its 66th year, the parade will include high-flying balloons, colorful floats, and even something for cat people.


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Picture of Bill Davenport
Amy Bishop
Davenport, sporting his cat paws, will join his herd of “cat people” to push the 600-pound yarn ball along the parade route.

At the corner of Brazos and Lamar Streets in downtown Houston, crews are putting the finishing touches on the floats that'll be in tomorrow's H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade. It takes three men to hoist a large foam turkey head — complete with a pilgrim's hat — onto its body.

It's what you'd expect too see in a Thanksgiving parade: Turkeys, colorful autumn leaves, and a giant cornucopia with fruit spilling out. But off to the side, there's a float that's different from the others.

You could say it's a whole other ball of yarn. In fact, it's called the “Big Texas Yarn Ball featuring Bill Davenport and the Cat People.”

"A herd of 20 or 30 people dressed as cats will be the motive power for this thing," says Bill Davenport, the Houston artist commissioned to create it. "They're going to be pushing the ball of yarn down the parade route."

The float is a 12-foot, 600-pound sphere of Styrofoam covered in colorful spongy foam cylinders, similar to the noodles used in swimming pools. "When they asked me for ideas for floats for the parade, I said, ‘Well what would be more fun than having something that didn't just drive along, it rolled along?'" Davenport says.

The city started including floats by local artists a few years ago. It's Davenport's first time to be involved and he's one of three who were chosen. (The others being Jim Kanan and Patrick Renner).

"It's great that they're giving artists the chance to show what they can do in a really public way like this," he says. "It's something I can do for the city and something that they're doing for me. It's a job, it was great."

The Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 9:00 tomorrow morning on Smith Street at Lamar. More than 200,000 people are expected to line the streets of the route. It's free and open to the public.

2015 Thanksgiving Day Parade Route
City of Houston
The 2015 Thanksgiving Day Parade route will cover 20 blocks.