The Voyager

’tis the season for Stroll on State

Vikings participate in the 5th annual city event, contribute to record crowd of 82,500 (This story received the Best in Show Award, Kettle Moraine Press Association, October 2018)

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’tis the season for Stroll on State

Olivia Hagerty, Chief Editor

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Rockford’s Stroll on State Festival, presented by Illinois Bank & Trust, celebrated its fifth anniversary this year, and many Guilford students took part in the event. This year the event expanded its hours, beginning with the Dasher Dash 5K Run at 8:00 a.m. and continuing into the evening util 9:00 pm.  Guilford students gathered to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree, listened to local performers sing carols, and caught up with old friends.

“It was good for Rockford because it really showed the good side of it since there is a lot of negativity and violence here,” said Rachael Gray, sophomore. “Everyone was so friendly and you felt welcomed. We all came together and had a good time.”

To start one of downtown’s biggest days of the holiday season, Stroll on State partnered with Fleet Feet Sports to create the Dasher Dash 5K holiday themed race. Starting at the UW Health Sports Factory, the race course took the runners all through downtown Rockford, crossed four bridges, and ended at the finish line on Grove Street where runners enjoyed some holiday snacks. Guilford Cross Country runners helped volunteer at the race. Keegan Strand, senior Cross Country runner, helped out with timing and assisting the runners.

“Rockford Fleet Feet believes it is important to get the younger population mixed into big events so they asked the team to volunteer,” said Strand. “Fleet Feet is a great organization. The run was a success and because of it in my opinion made our community closer.”

Guilfords’ Acapella team, The Sharp Harmonics, performed for their third year at Stroll on State, but this year in City Hall. Joel Cordonnier, sophomore member of Acapella team, enjoyed singing with his team at a new location this year.

“We sang in the balcony of City Hall which was a first,” said Cordonnier. “Stroll on State allows us to enjoy the holidays as one. We enjoyed singing there because of the reactions when people heard us; it’s wonderful.”

Another Guilford group that helped at the event was National Honors Society. Students volunteered to get their makeup done professionally, dress up, and participate in the parade. Roxanna Ramos, senior NHS member, had an amazing time being a part of the parade that made people excited about Christmas, especially the kids.

“It was a great experience,” said Ramos. “I am glad I got to make so many kids to continue to believe in the spirit of Christmas!”

 

This year Stroll on State had events and activities for people of all ages. The reimagined parade began at three o’clock.  Partnering with The National Electrical Contractors Association and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 364, the goal of this year’s parade was to help cover more of the downtown and “super-size” the march. It began at the Rockford Public Library and ended at North 3rd Street. The parade featured festive floats, high school marching bands, and local businesses; it even had new surprises like the 30 feet tall festival balloons.

“We want to create community traditions and provide a fun event for Rockford,” said Andrea Cook, Marketing and Communications Manager for Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We joined many forces to create unforgettable attractions and make the fifth anniversary big.”

Organizers—including sponsors and vendors—began planning for this year’s Stoll on State immediately after the 2016 festival. The event featured ice skating, wagon rides, live performances, s’mores, and even Santa himself.

“I personally love music, so I liked the performances and I go every year to see my dad sing on stage,” said Parker Pelley, sophomore. “It’s a really good event and it’s cool to see everyone come together.”

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