Expanded holiday parade, new vendors, will highlight Rockford’s Stroll on State

Chronicle Media

(Photo courtesy of Stroll on State)

Rockford’s seventh annual Stroll on State will feature an extended holiday parade, refreshed attractions and more live entertainment later this month.

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau officially announced last week that popular holiday kickoff will return on Saturday Nov. 30 in downtown Rockford.

The free community event, held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, attracted more than 87,500 persons last year. 

“As we approach Stroll on State’s seventh year in the Rockford region, I am awestruck at just how much this event continues to evolve with the help of so many,” said Tana Vettore, RACVB’s director of destination development at an announcement event. “The magic of the season shines through our downtown during Stroll and brings people together in a variety of ways.”

In total, 36 local companies and organizations are providing financial support through sponsorship of this year’s Stroll on State and Dasher Dash 5K. Their investment allows RACVB to present the event as a free gift to the community.

Illinois Bank & Trust returns as presenting sponsor for the fifth consecutive year.

“Each year seems to be even more enjoyable for our team, families and friends,” said Jeff Hultman, president/CEO of Illinois Bank & Trust. “We are grateful for our invaluable partnership with the RACVB which allows us to bring happiness to so many people during the holiday season.”

Additional local organizations and media companies provide support invaluable to the production of Stroll on State.

“Stroll on State is another powerful example of the welcoming nature of Rockford, as we unite for an entertaining and enjoyable kickoff to the holiday season,” said Mayor Tom McNamara. “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.”

Stroll organizers announced seven enhancements and new highlights for 2019.

  • Stroll on State’s Holiday Parade starts at 2 p.m. — The Stroll Parade has expanded this year adding even more attractions and fun surprises! Stroll on State’s Holiday Parade, presented by The Power Connection – IBEW 364 & NECA, will step off on South Main Street at Chestnut Street at 2 p.m. and stroll north to State Street and then east across the State Street Bridge, ending at 3rd Street. Parade onlookers are encouraged to find a spot along the route starting at 1 p.m. The parade will feature eight large-scale holiday-themed and character balloons – including Buddy the Dinosaur and Butterscotch the Elf, several festive floats, live music, DJs and a few extra surprises.
  • Take a stroll through Strollville — Strollville is the largest, new attraction at Stroll on State this year. Strollville will include real elf houses that children can play inside. There will be plenty to see, touch and take photos with, including a larger-than-life Elf parade balloon. Strollville is also the location of Rudolph’s Reindeer Village, Santa’s very own reindeer. This interactive experience will be located immediately east of BMO Harris Bank Center and one block south of the City of Rockford Christmas tree.
  • The tree lighting is part of the annual Stroll on State festivities. (Photo courtesy of Stroll on State)

  • Reimagined Main Stage and Tree Lighting Experience — This year there will be a reimagined tree lighting experience for the Official City of Rockford Christmas Tree, sponsored by Northwestern Illinois Building Trades. To accommodate growing crowds and to allow guests additional vantage points from which to view the stage, the Main Stage, sponsored by Gallagher Williams-Manny is moving to the southwest corner of Wyman and State Streets (just west of the former location). There will be special moments to enjoy and guests are encouraged to sing together and count down to the official tree lighting. Watch for Santa as he makes a special appearance during the music production beginning at 5:45 and count down to the tree lighting beginning approximately at 6:15 p.m.
  • Sky Lights Fireworks Displayed in a New Location — The Sky Lights Fireworks presented by Pierce Distribution will launch from Davis Park immediately following the tree lighting production. Some of the best viewing locations will be from Wyman Street and the East State Street bridge. Viewing in Davis Park will not be permitted.
  • Additional Performance Stage Added to the Lineup —There were so many performance applicants this year it was clear that we needed a third stage to accommodate all of the great talent from the local and regional areas. The newest stage added to the lineup is the Sleigh Bell stage, which will be located in front of Chase Bank along East State Street. This stage is in addition to the Silver Bell and Jingle Bell stages, sponsored by PCI Pharma Services.
  • River Lights Experience Shines in a New Location Under the Jefferson Street bridge, catch the synchronized light show, Rockford’s River Lights – Dancin’ in the Street, sponsored by Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23.
  • Newly Enhanced Frosty’s Merry Market — Stroll on State’s vendor experience has been expanded this year with new and returning outdoor food, beverage and gift vending at two locations: Rockford City Market Pavilion at the corner of East State and Water Streets, and the parking lot at the corner of West State and Wyman Streets. Exact locations of the vendors will be announced soon.


In 2019, the main event grounds will be along State Street in downtown Rockford bordered by Jefferson, Church, Chestnut and Third streets.

The popular Hot Chocolate Express will be at two locations; featuring a special recipe hot chocolate with sprinkles of marshmallows. Join the Rockford Marlins Swim Team at the Grinch’s MovieLand, sponsored by Xfinity, where you can watch the classic cartoon version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and at Rudolph’s Reindeer Village, sponsored by Mercyhealth.

Make your way to say hello to Santa at City First Church’s outdoor SantaLand located at the Millennium Fountain on Water Street. A second SantaLand is also available indoors at Stewart Square located at the corner of South Main and West State Streets). The Riverview Ice House will once again be open for free ice skating, with children’s activities, throughout the night thanks to the Rockford Park District.

Live entertainment will take place at various locations, including Veterans Memorial Hall, sponsored by Ironworkers Local Union 498, where Starlight Theater will present “A Christmas Story” at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. along with a Once Upon a Dream Performances meet and greet from 3-9 p.m. Just down the street at Nordlof Center, The Studio Rockford will perform “Newsies.” Performances by The Studio are underwritten by the David and Colleen Anderson Family.

Additional event favorites

  • Randy Finch and the Ice Brigades, sponsored by OSF HealthCare, are back outside the Rockford Register Star building to showcase their amazing ice sculpture creations.
  • The popular Fire & Ice, sponsored by OSF HealthCare, will wow crowds again as blocks of ice dissolve into beautiful bonfires that create an enchanting display at the corner of East State Street and N. 2nd Street, as well as outside of Veterans Memorial Hall.
  • S’mores stations will be set up in three locations. Whether you’ve just visited Santa or are watching a holiday movie, Stroll grill masters will grill these tasty treats all night.
  • Horse & Wagon Rides will be in two locations – the corner of Elm and South Main Street across from the BMO Harris Bank Center, and the lot across from Indoor City Market on Madison Street.A full listing of events and attractions is available at strollonstate.com