This won’t come as much of a surprise: You should probably bring a jacket to the Harvest of Harmony parade Saturday morning.

Julia Berg of the National Weather Service in Hastings says there’ll be a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms around the area. The showers might be moving out, so this area “might be on the backside of them,” Berg said.

Temperatures will be in the mid-50s at about 8 a.m., rising to the lower 60s by mid-day.

Ninety-seven bands will march in the 78th Harvest of Harmony parade, which begins at 8:15 a.m. on Third Street in downtown Grand Island.

The number of entries will total 205, including 75 floats and 28 Miss Harvest of Harmony candidates.

“Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories!” is the theme of the parade, which is sponsored by Tom Dinsdale Automotive.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha will bring its marching band to the parade. So will Cheyenne (Wyo.) East High School.

In addition to the 213-person unit from Grand Island Senior High, the bigger groups marching include Lincoln Southwest, which has 210 members; Kearney, with 190, and North Platte, with 142.

Other big groups include Crete, with 119 students; Milford, 111; Aurora, 109; Northwest, 108; Hastings, 106; Seward, 105, and Cheyenne East, with 100.

Twenty-seven of the bands will compete in Saturday’s field competition.

A parade that’s been around since 1938 is going to be drenched in tradition.

Many of the parents who attend Saturday’s parade marched in it themselves when they were younger, said Josie Meister of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, who organizes the parade

The parade should run until 11 or 11:30. “Our last step-off is 10:30,” says Meister, who is the Chamber’s communications and event coordinator.

The judges for the parade float competition are Shane Labenz, Teri Brown and Jay Wren.

Float judging will take Friday evening at Fonner Park.

Miss Harvest of Harmony will be chosen Friday at 7 p.m. at College Park.

Organizers of the parade started contacting high schools in April.

The parade has had a “really great committee,” Meister said. The group has done a good job of securing volunteers and “getting things done,” she said.

The committee is headed up by Michael Porter.

The parade will be televised on NTV.

For the Grand Island Police Department, Harvest of Harmony means “all hands on deck,” said Capt. Jim Duering.

The officers who handle the 12-hour shift the night before and the night after won’t be on duty. Because they’re needed to “keep the town safe” those nights, the department doesn’t want fatigue to be an issue.

But the officers who work the day shift Saturday will be busy with the parade, as well as handling normal police calls. They will be directing traffic, helping load and unload buses and “making sure that cars don’t come onto the parade route,” Duering said.

With 97 bands, it’s tricky work getting the buses unloaded and to the pickup area in the right order, Duering said.

Harvest of Harmony has a ton of volunteers who “do a great job,” Duering said. “But it still takes a lot of orchestration and man hours just to set the whole thing up and then keep it moving.”

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