Heartland’s Stroll On State Event Brings Record Crowd To Downtown Rockford

Heartland’s Stroll On State Event Brings Record Crowd To Downtown Rockford

13862222-standardROCKFORD, IL – Downtown Rockford held its debut Heartland Stroll On State event on Saturday evening. A record crowd of at least 90,000 people attended, but according to Our City Our Story, only 30,000 people attended based on their “unconfirmed conservative reports.”  Those unconfirmed conservative reports came from RACVB, who got their stats from the homeless people who were awakened from an early winter slumber.   Students from Heartland sang Christmas carols and Mayor Barry Morrison gave his blessings to the Heartland congregation before counting down from the numbers 10 to 1.

Four-year-old Fiona Wood of Freeport had the honor of flipping the switch to light the tree as Santa Claus arrived by fire truck to greet the excited children.  The countdown was supposed to light up a big tree once the number “1” was proclaimed by the crowd of 30,000 or 90,000, but the tree’s extension cord wasn’t plugged into its power strip in time due to the homeless people who needed it to finish cooking their jambalaya.  Fiona Wood said, “Mommy? Where is Daddy?”

It was the largest crowd to gather downtown since Waterfront gave up its community wings to financial failures.  The 35 foot illuminated Christmas tree greeted the crowd about a minute after the number “1” was counted down to, but we have the details that led up to the lighting of the tree.

Joy and laughter could be heard in the air.  Children were screaming and the adults seemed to forget how bad things are here in Rockford. The countdown began: “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”– and then nothing but darkness and the sound of silence was followed by boos and hisses. The fireworks rose from the ground; and in true Rockford style, the tree–in all its delayed glory–finally lit up a minute after the number “1” hit and triumphant music was heard by all.

This event was great, and our staff managed to have fun despite the countdown mishaps.  All in all, Rockford’s math problems are all around us and Heartland’s First Annual Stroll On State proved that positivity doesn’t have to be perfectly timed!


Here are are a few “Heartland’s Stroll On State” reviews from our loyal RKFDnews readers. Thanks so much. Hahaha.

Cindy Wagner–Rockford
Both kids and adults thoroughly enjoyed themselves…this is a classic event and very family-friendly. It does get a bit crowded, but we arrived at 5:10pm and easily managed a spot up front. It’s worth coming a bit early for this convenience. Also, there was a spot right in front reserved for kids…it was hard to see with the crowd, but we just pointed our kids in the right direction and they squirmed in there.The tree did not light right away but it finally did. Phillip Reed (the happy weather man) kept the kids entertained as they waited for the performance to begin. If you plan to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant afterwards, you’ll want to make a reservation in advance or plan to wait at least an hour.

Jill Bergerman–Beloit
This tree-lighting event is a “bright spot” in downtown Rockford. Crowded but family-friendly, the community is at its finest as young and old, toddlers and school-age kids, enjoy the festive season kick-off. If you’re going to brave just one of the State Street crowds, this is definitely one to consider.
We had so much fun even when the tree did not light I told my kids not to worry “this is Rockford that’s how they do it here”..

Scott Julius– Rockford
Although crowded, this is a great event for downtown and great way to start the holiday season. Like the others said, arrive early to get a good spot and leave the stroller at home and bring the backpack- too many people to try to navigate through.The best part was when the tree did not light up and they tried about 5 times as the fireworks shot overhead it finally came on to cheers and laughter.

Ron Mernaw–Chemung
This is the most crowded church event you will ever see in downtown Rockford. Proper planning will make all the difference in the world to make this event enjoyable for your family.

Roger Christless–Rockford
Arrive early with kids so they can get upfront and in the middle otherwise they will never get to see anything. Steer clear of the sides closest to the stores. They are the main arteries by which people jostle for position and it seems no one ever stays put there. Ditch the stroller. No way, no how are you pushing it through this crowd. Dress warmly, you will be waiting around for a while. A thermos of Hot chocolate filled with schnapps wouldn’t be a bad call.

Anita Frost–CherryValley
Next year I think I will give my kids glow necklaces. It will be easier to pick them out in the crowd. It is pretty dark until they “light up” the tree.

Lance Deerstorm – Rockford
Oh wow, well, know your post tree lighting plan. Pretty much everyone heads for a restaurant. We are going to start a tradition out of going to Octane. The wait for 4 people is easily an hour. I am pretty sure it is the same at most places around town. Knowing that, you might want to feed your kids a little snack before heading out then after we will stroll down state to Uncle Nicks for some baklava!

– Jay Vannigan

Tags assigned to this article:
gorockfordheartlandracvbstroll on state

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