Stroll on State Returns to Kick Off Holidays

A nearly decade-long tradition in Rockford will return on Nov. 27, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as Stroll on State brings thousands of people downtown for a parade, live music, a visit from Santa, fireworks and more. Last year’s event was virtual due to the pandemic.

“We’re excited to have a traditional in-person Stroll on State event planned,” says Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “It’s one of my favorite events because it’s a powerful example of the welcoming nature of Rockford, as we unite for an entertaining and enjoyable kickoff to the holiday season.”

The unofficial event kick-off is the Dasher Dash, a holiday-themed 5K Run/Walk through Rockford’s downtown district starting at noon on Nov. 27.

Stroll on State officially kicks off with a parade at 2 p.m. featuring floats, festive music and costumed characters including Mr. and Mrs. Claus, with balloons, bands, princesses, elves, antique vehicles and more. Fun activities will continue until 9 p.m. At 8 p.m., fireworks will launch from Jefferson Street Bridge.

As in previous years, the Stroll on State team will transform the downtown into a winter wonderland. Visitors will enjoy live entertainment and activities like s’more stations and ice carvings.

One major change this year involves the tree lighting. Instead of one giant tree, the tree-lighting ceremony will be divided into three events at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. at three stage locations with three trees. This will allow crowds to spread out and families to work around their schedules more easily. Each stage will host a holiday story-time reading, a visit from Santa, live music and the tree lighting.

The 5 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony will take place at the Silver Bell Tree and Stage at Eddie Green Place on the corner of 1st and East State streets; The 6 p.m. ceremony will be at Davis Park;and the 7 p.m. ceremony will take place at the Jingle Bell Tree and Stage at the corner of North Main and Mulberry streets.

Live music by local artists will begin at 2 p.m. and conclude at 9 p.m.

Santa visits will be done differently this year, too, with Santa Claus moving throughout the grounds. He’ll also make his way through Rockford on a fire truck Dec. 4, 11 and 18.

Find a full list of events and attractions at ❚