Even though the first week of fall just started the excitement is already in the air for this winter’s Stroll on State.That’s why organizers say it’s a long preparation process.
Volunteer Morgan Dolphin says, “today I was actually working on peeling vinyl off of presents. Really sticky but it had to get done”.
In the middle of a September all signs pointed to Christmas as stacks of wooden boxes waiting to be colorfully wrapped, giant ginger bread men, rows of nut crackers and garland covered walls
In Santa’s Workshop as volunteers start the long prep for Stroll on State.
Organizer Brad Stallings says, “we make all the presents that go out on the street, we string up all the Christmas trees that go out, we fix the lights, we fix the garland that you can see behind me, that goes on the light poles downtown, pretty much everything that gets put out on the street for the festival”.
Stallings says Stroll on State has continuously grown exponentially every year.
It may seem early to begin planning and decorating mid-September but that’s what organizers have to do to keep up with the excitement.
“We’re always trying to add more decorations, new ideas, new things to catch the eye when you come down for the festival”, Stallings says.
The volunteers are just as eager, drawing inspiration for ideas from near and far to dress downtown Rockford to impress the crowds.
Volunteer Todd Johnson says he gets inspired while in other cities like Chicago around hte holidays. “The way the trees are lit compared to how we’re lighting ours and I would like to be able to do better than Chicago when it comes to lighting the trees”, says Johnson.
“Our volunteers keep an eye out and they’re constantly bringing in new ideas ‘hey I saw this, when I was at this festival or that festival’ we try to incorporate as much as we can”, Stallings added.
While Stroll on State is still months away, and decorators have a long road ahead of them to get the props ready to line the streets.
Their slogan “because 7 hours matters” fuels their fire to make the event the best experience it can be.
“Stroll on State day that everything’s out there, wow we really did do a lot, and everybody’s coming down to enjoy it” says Dolphin.
Johnson continued, “just to watch people enjoy the whole event and the number of people that come down kind of warms your heart, especially when you see the little kids and their eyes light up”.