DOWNTOWN — What has quickly become one of the region’s most notable events got even bigger in 2017, according to organizers of Stroll on State, Rockford’s annual holiday celebration.
The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau reported that the event, in just its fifth year, drew an estimated 82,500 visitors on Nov. 25, representing a 10-percent increase over 2016.
Key elements that contributed to this year’s numbers were the new Dasher Dash 5K, extended hours, a re-imagined parade, new stages for live entertainment, additional fire and ice displays and a high of 51 degrees.
“Stroll on State truly resonates in the hearts of many and has become a tradition that puts a big, bright spotlight on downtown Rockford. With five years in our rear view we see more clearly than ever before that events like this make a big difference and form perceptions of our community that are both positive and lasting,” said John Groh, RACVB president/CEO. “Stroll on State may be a one-day event, but it is a catalyst for a revitalized downtown, has improved our economy with an influx of people supporting local businesses and provides a memorable experience thousands can look back on with joy for years to come.”
Organizers evaluate aerial photography, feedback from crowd spotters, shuttle bus ridership, occupied parking stalls, sales-participation numbers for local businesses and participation counts at event attractions to determine the estimate.
The event spans more than 15 blocks in downtown Rockford, showcasing locally owned retail shops and eateries. It also features an abundance of family friendly activities highlighted by the Stroll on State parade, visits with Santa, horse and wagon rides, several live performances and entertainment, drinking hot chocolate and watching the magical tree lighting of the City of Rockford Christmas Tree.
This year, 7,278 guests utilized park and ride shuttles, 4,200 children visited Santa Claus and that 954 people ran or walked in the first Dasher Dash.
“Partnering with the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and countless others, gives Illinois Bank & Trust a chance to give back to the Rockford community in such a meaningful way. Stroll on State exceeds expectations each year by bringing the magic of the holidays to life in our downtown,” said Jeff Hultman, Illinois Bank & Trust president/CEO. “It is truly an incredible event supported by the community and that’s why we remain fully invested. It’s hard to ever remember a time when we didn’t have “Stroll on State to look forward to, and speaking of looking forward, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year.” R.