By Erin Kolb
After a successful holiday season with over 65,000 visitors, the decorations on State Street are coming down, but some of the lights will be staying up year round thanks to some committed donors.
As part of Stroll on State, first held in 2013, the holiday display of choreographed lights and music is quickly becoming a citywide tradition. But new this year was a display called River Lights, which featured special LED lights and music along the Rock River between Jefferson and State Streets.
“Stroll on State, as well as River Lights, is about creating new traditions for the holiday season,” said Josh Albrecht, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB). “It’s a new way to celebrate the holiday season, and it’s something the whole family can enjoy.”
RACVB raised the $150,000 necessary to permanently install the lights through local fundraisers and other sponsors. While the lights were colored and choreographed to music for the holiday season, they will be used as typical outdoor lighting throughout the rest of the year.
“People should stay tuned – there will be performances throughout the year, probably coinciding with holidays, and people can still donate to keep the lights on,” Albrecht said.
Rockford resident and Foreign Trade Zone Administrator for the Greater Rockford Airport Authority Marge Bevers lives across the street from the display. She says the positive influence of the installation is palpable.
“I can tell you for a fact we see people all the time – families with kids, couples – coming to see the lights,” Bevers told the Times Tuesday. “Living there we get the benefit of this 24/7, it has really provided a destination for people to come see. I think it has tipped the scales in favor of living and working downtown.”
Donations will be accepted year-round to keep the lights on and allow continued performances. The RACVB is looking for volunteers to help take down the rest of the holiday lights and decorations this Saturday. Call 815-963-8111 to get involved.