Laurie Anderson of the Rockford Park District talks about different kids activities, such as street hockey and ice skating, that will happen at Stroll on State this year. Anderson gave details Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, at a news conference at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD  — The city’s biggest holiday tradition is back this year, and there are plenty of changes to know about the free downtown festitivities.

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which puts on the annual Stroll on State, prepared this list of nine announcements to help you get ready for the Stroll’s ninth year.

The Stroll takes place from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27.

It’s back in-person

After last year’s festivities were held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event is back in-person in downtown Rockford.

Several precautions have been put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including more space between vendors and a larger downtown footprint that includes Davis Park.

Related: Stroll on State returns with in-person festivities

3 tree lighting ceremonies

The annual tree-lighting ceremony will take place at three different locations this year.

  • At 5 p.m. a tree lighting ceremony will take place at the Silver Bell Tree and Stage at Eddie Green Place on the corner of First and East State streets.
  • At 6 p.m. the city’s official Christmas tree will be lit at Davis Park.
  • At 7 p.m. the final tree lighting will happen at the Jingle Bell Tree and Stage at the corner of North Main and Mulberry streets.

Holding three tree lighting ceremonies is being done to try to spread out the crowd from what has traditionally been the largest concentration of people. It also lets people customize the Stroll to their own schedule, the Visitors Bureau says.

New time, location for fireworks

The annual fireworks display will be launched from the Jefferson Street bridge at 8 p.m. You will be able to see the fireworks from anywhere in the festival that you can see the bridge, another change meant to allow for more spacing.

Davis Park will be filled with festivities

The city’s official Christmas tree will be lit at 6 p.m. in Davis Park.

Across the park there will be a stage with performances, hot chocolate and s’mores, fire pits, a live performance and adult beverages.

Stroll on State Parade returns

The annual holiday parade steps off at 2 p.m. on South Main Street at Chestnut Street, and will move north to State Street, then east across the State Street bridge, ending at Third Street.

Parade onlookers are encouraged to find a spot along the route starting at 1 p.m.

It will feature eight large-scale, holiday-themed and character balloons including Frosty the Snowman and Butterscotch, several festive floats, live music DJs and more.

Local organizations and businesses are invited to participate in the parade. The deadline to register is Nov. 5. For pricing options and information, contact Nicole Blough at Visit for more information.

New Letters to Santa locations

Kids can write and decorate a letter to Santa inside City Hall, 425 E. State St., and three outdoors locations.

The outdoor spots are outside City Hall, near the Davis Park Christmas tree and at JS Social Café, 607 W. State St.

Free ice skating at BMO Harris Bank Center

You can lace up ice skates and try out the Rockford IceHogs new home rink at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Ice skates are available free of charge from the Rockford Park District, and kids can play street hockey provided by the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation outside the BMO.

Starlight Theatre live performances

Starlight Theatre will present “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical” at various times throughout the event. The show is intended for all ages.

Dance with princesses and other heroes

Blitzen’s Ball, a character dance party for kids, will take place inside Stewart Square, 308 W. State St. The dance party is produced by Forest City Fairytale.

For more information on all the events at Stroll on State visit

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