ROCKFORD (WIFR) – New numbers out today show more than 40,000 people spent time in downtown Rockford Saturday for the city’s first “Stroll on State” holiday celebration.
The event gave local businesses a major boost with some restaurants reporting two-hour wait times.
“We’re thrilled with how the community responded.”
Strolling down State Street may be easier now, but Saturday night was nearly impossible to walk in the downtown area, during the first ever “Stroll on State.” New numbers show about 40,000 people packed our city streets for the holiday festival.
“People were so respectful, they had a great time, they patiently waited in some of the lines when they got long. The restaurants were full all night, that’s really what we wanted,” said RACVB President John Groh.
The premiere event wasn’t just family fun for the holidays, it also brought in big bucks for several local businesses in downtown Rockford.
“I rang up almost as much as a I did in the whole month of November,” said Minglewood Boutique owner Karen Elyea.
Elyea says she was pleasantly surprised to have so many customers I just one night.
“It was non-stop people. Over 100 people in the store for 5 hours straight, it was crazy. I had never seen anything like it.”
Owners at Del Italia’s say it was a packed house Saturday nigh, so much so they had to turn some customers away.
“I had to take the phone off the hook, I couldn’t answer, I mean we couldn’t take any more orders, I mean we were above and beyond, the ovens just couldn’t keep up.”
Anna Calvanese says she even had to call in more workers to help with the crowd.
“We were expecting to be busy, but not that busy. We were thrilled it was very exciting.
It’s that momentum business owners say they want to keep during the holidays and throughout the new year. Organizers say they had a budget of about $50,000 for the free Stroll on State event, which included the decorations around downtown. No other events have been set just yet, but workers at the RACVB are talking about possible, similar festivals around Christmas or even New Yea’s to keep the holiday crowd going. Organizers say they want to have more family friendly downtown events during the winter months.