Recreation & Destinations

Stroll on State Kicks Off Holiday Season

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This holiday tradition will help you catch the Christmas spirit. Find out what to expect at this annual event and learn about some of the new and exciting attractions coming up.

Fire and Ice, a Stroll on State favorite, amazes crowds each year as blocks of ice dissolve into stunning bonfires, creating spectacular displays.

Fire and Ice, a Stroll on State favorite, amazes crowds each year as blocks of ice dissolve into stunning bonfires, creating spectacular displays.

If you spend a late-fall afternoon “strolling” down State Street in downtown Rockford, you’ll be sure to catch the Christmas spirit.

Stroll on State, a highly-anticipated holiday tradition in Rockford, returns Nov. 30 from 2 to 9 p.m.

Visitors who attend this free, family-friendly event can walk down State Street from Third to Main Streets and experience the joys, magic and wonders of the holiday season. Last year, more than 87,500 people visited downtown Rockford to enjoy the holiday festivities.

“The magic of the season shines through our downtown during Stroll and brings people together in a variety of ways,” says Tana Vettore, Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s director of destination development.

Stroll on State is expanding its holiday parade this year. The parade will start at South Main and Chestnut Streets at 2 p.m. It’ll head north to State Street and then east across the State Street Bridge before ending at Third Street. The parade will include eight large-scale, holiday-themed character balloons, including Buddy the Dinosaur and Butterscotch the Elf.

There will also be several other festive floats, along with live music and DJs. There will be additional surprises along the way, so be sure to find a spot along the parade route starting at 1 p.m.

A new, large attraction is Strollville, which includes real elf houses for children to enjoy. While you’re there, take plenty of photos, including with the larger-than-life Elf parade balloon.

Strollville is also home to Rudolph’s Reindeer Village, Santa’s reindeer. This interactive activity will be located just east of the BMO Harris Bank Center and a block south of the city Christmas tree.

Speaking of that dazzling Christmas tree, this year will feature a new tree lighting experience. To accommodate the large crowds, the main stage is moving to the southwest corner of Wyman and State Streets, just west of the previous location. Guests are also encouraged to sing together and count down to the tree lighting, which happens at 6:15 p.m. Keep an eye out for Santa as he’ll make a special appearance at 5:45 p.m.

A fireworks show will follow the tree lighting. Some of the best viewing locations will be from Wyman Street and the East State Street Bridge.

Longtime Stroll on Street favorites also are returning. Randy Finch and the Ice Brigades will be back to show off their ice sculpture creations.

Fire and Ice will amaze crowds, as blocks of ice dissolve into amazing bonfires that create stunning displays. Check this out at the corner of East State Street and North Second Street and at Veterans Memorial Hall.

Horse and wagon rides will be set up at two locations, at the corner of Elm and South Main Streets across from the BMO Harris Bank Center and across from Indoor City Market on Madison Street.

Locally owned businesses will have plenty of holiday specials and fun activities available during Small Business Saturday, which coincides with Stroll on State.

Mayor Tom McNamara says this annual event is another powerful example of the welcoming nature of Rockford.

“Stroll illustrates the diverse and progressive spirit of our city, providing a unique opportunity for visitors and residents alike to join together in celebration,” he says.

Fore more information, including an event map and suggested parking areas, visit strollonstate.com.

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