Letters to Santa
November 28 - December 7

Stroll On State Events & Attractions

Project First Rate

Stroll on State 2021 Timeline

  • 12:00pm - Dasher Dash 5K
  • 2:00pm - Stroll on State Parade
  • 5:00pm - Tree lighting at Eddie Green Park (1st & State Street)
  • 6:00pm - Tree lighting at Davis Park
  • 7:00pm - Tree lighting at N. Main & Mulberry Street
  • 8:00pm - Fireworks launched from Jefferson Street Bridge

Jump to Event

Parade  |  Tree Lighting Ceremonies  |  Fireworks  | 
Santa Visits  |  Davis Park  |  Horse & Wagon Rides  | 
Letters to Santa  |  Ice Sculpting and Fire & Ice  | 
Ice Skating  |  Live Performances  |  Blitzen's Ball  | 
Food & Drink  |  Social Media

Stroll on State Parade

Stroll on State’s Holiday Parade, sponsored by The Power Connection – IBEW 364 & NECA steps off on S. Main Street at Chestnut Street at 2 p.m. and will move north to State Street 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 Frosty the Snowman and Butterscotch, several festive floats, live music DJs, and a few extra surprises are expected – including Santa & Mrs. Claus’ official arrival in Rockford for the holidays.

Tree Lighting Ceremonies

One of the most popular moments of years past – the Tree Lighting Ceremony – will take place at three different locations and at different times.

  • 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 1st and E. State St.
  • Then at 6 p.m. the Rockford City Tree, sponsored by the Northwestern Illinois Building Trades, will be lighted at Davis Park.
  • Finally, at 7 p.m. the third tree lighting will take place at the Jingle Bell Tree and Stage at the corner of N. Main. St. and Mulberry St.

Hosting three tree lighting ceremonies allows for crowds to be better spread out – rather than all together for one ceremony, avoiding what has traditionally been the largest concentration of guests gathered during Stroll. The different times also allow those with younger children and those who do not want to stay out as late the opportunity to customize the festival to their own schedule.

Each stage will host a holiday storytime reading, a visit from Santa, live music and tree lighting. Stroll on State will partner with three community groups to produce the three lighting ceremonies:

  • SOAR Radio and SOAR Assembly,
  • Coalition of Latino Leaders and Rockford Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and
  • City First Church

Stroll on State Fireworks


Sky Lights Fireworks, presented by Pierce Distribution, will once again light up the skies of downtown Rockford except this time they will be launched from the Jefferson Street Bridge at 8 p.m. Viewers will be able to see the fireworks from anywhere in the festival if they can see the Jefferson Street Bridge. This change will allow for more spacing while the skies burst with color.

Santa Visits

Santa Visits will be different this year to keep kids, who currently cannot be vaccinated, healthy. In prior years, kids and families waited in line for up to an hour to visit with Santa. This year, Santa Claus will explore the grounds of Stroll on State. He plans to see kids during story time readings at the three stages, while riding in the parade, and he may even be seen serving hot chocolate and s’mores, visiting his reindeer and riding a Zamboni.

Davis Park

The most beautiful tree in the Rockford region, the Rockford City Tree, sponsored by the Northwestern Illinois Building Trades, will be lighted in Davis Park at 6 p.m. Gather with friends and family and enjoy the magical moment while coming together as a community. Elsewhere in the park, there will be a stage with performances, hot chocolate and s’mores, fire pits and adult beverages.

Rudolph’s Reindeer Village, sponsored by Mercyhealth, will once again be created in Davis Park. A couple of reindeer who power Santa’s sleigh will be there to enjoy the winter wonderland. There will even be a special appearance with Ana and Kristof with their special reindeer friends.

Horse & Wagon Rides

Horse & Wagon Rides, sponsored by Amazon, will be in one location – there will be one continuous loop on the west side of the Rock River with pick up and drop off locations near the corner of Wyman and Elm Streets.

Letters to Santa at Stroll on State

Letters to Santa

During Stroll, your favorite group of elves will be back at Rockford City Hall to collect letters and give them to Santa! Sponsored by FurstStaffing, kids can write a letter to Santa, decorate the paper and mail it on-site to the North Pole. In addition to inside City Hall, there will also be three outside locations throughout the festival to mail your letter to Santa. Those locations can be found outside City Hall, near the Davis Park City Tree and at JS Social Café.

Ice Sculpting and Fire & Ice

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.

Ice Skating

Take a break from strolling the grounds and lace up some ice skates at the BMO Harris Bank Center – on the IceHogs’ new home ice rink – put on by the Rockford Park District and the Rockford IceHogs. Ice skates available free of charge. Additionally, there will be street hockey provided by the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation along with family-friendly activities powered by the Rockford Park District in the lot outside of the BMO Harris Bank Center.

Live Performances

Live music is BACK, and we're so excited to feature the tremendous talent of our local artists and a few others playing their favorite holiday music at this year’s Stroll on State. With many stages to choose from, you’ll have several opportunities to catch a band or two while taking in the sights and celebrating the season. Santa will be making a special appearance at each stage, along with special guests and live musical performances. Live music will begin at 2pm and conclude at 9pm.

Stage Collaborative Partners

  • Silver Bell Stage (Eddie Green) - Hosted by the Coalition of Latino Leaders
    Join us for an array of vibrant music, poetry reading, a DJ, local performers, tree lighting!
  • Davis Park Stage - Hosted by City First Church 
    Visit this stage for acapella performances, classical holiday music, and more! 
  • Jingle Bell Stage (Main & Mulberry) – Hosted by SOAR Radio & SOAR Assembly
    Soar into the holidays by visiting this stage. This stage will host a Santa reading and performances by Soar Assembly.

Blitzen's Ball - Character Dance Party

From princesses to heroes and everything in between this dance party is produced by Forest City Fairytale Company and will take place inside Stewart Square. Kids and families are invited to make fun memories together throughout the day (2 – 9 p.m.) at this new Stroll event.

Food & Drink

Two Holiday Markets will host local retail and food vendors and are sponsored by T-Mobile and the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation. S’mores stations will be set up in four locations. Whether you just took off the ice skates or are watching a holiday movie, Stroll grill masters will grill these tasty treats all night.

Social Media

Engage with us on GoRockford social channels and the Stroll on State Facebook page. Post your favorite photos from Stroll on State, your decorated home, your businesses, and your neighborhood to spark community pride. Be sure to use our custom Stroll on State Snapchat filter. Follow the GoRockford and Stroll on State Facebook pages today and watch for more updates!