By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Downtown will transform into a winter wonderland again as Stroll on State returns for a ninth year.
The annual kickoff to the holiday season has become a Rockford tradition that brings tens of thousands of people to the downtown streets to sip hot chocolate, eat s’mores, ice skate, visit Santa, watch live performances and shop at holiday-themed markets, among dozens of other activities.
“The magic of the season shines through our downtown during Stroll and brings people together,” said Kristen Paul, director of destination development for the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which puts on the Stroll. “We are truly thankful to our partners, volunteers, patrons, sponsors and vendors for their support throughout the years and this year.”
The Stroll is held annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving, making this year’s date Nov. 27.
Quick guide: 9 things to know for Stroll on State’s ninth year
Last year’s festivities were moved to an online format over concerns about the coronavirus. It will once again be held in person, and several adjustments have been made under the guidance of the Winnebago County Health Department to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Changes include a larger area for festivities, including the addition of Davis Park to the mix, multiple tree lighting ceremonies, a new time and location for fireworks, indoor and outdoor Letters to Santa mailbox locations, requiring masks or face coverings for all indoor locations, additional space between vendors at outdoor markets and hand-sanitizing stations spread throughout the event grounds.
“We’re excited to have a traditional in-person Stroll on State event planned for this year. It is one of my favorite events because it is a powerful example of the welcoming nature of Rockford, as we unite for an entertaining and enjoyable kickoff to the holiday season,” Mayor Tom McNamara said. “Most importantly, Stroll illustrates the diverse and progressive spirit of our city, providing a unique opportunity for visitors and residents alike to join together in celebration.”
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There are 22 companies and other organizations that provide financial support for Stroll on State and the Dasher Dash 5K.
In total, 22 companies and organizations are providing financial support through sponsorship of this year’s Stroll on State and Dasher Dash 5K. Illinois Bank & Trust has been the presenting sponsor since 2015.
“We are truly excited about continuing this time–honored tradition in the Rockford community,” said Jeff Hultman, CEO of Illinois Bank & Trust, in a news release. “Our company tagline is ‘Great Things Happen,’ and this event is a prime example of how great things can happen when you have a community that comes together to bring such joy to the Rockford community just in time for the holidays.”
About | Stroll on State
When: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27
Where: downtown Rockford
Cost: Entry is free
See all activities and more: strollonstate.com