69th annual Santa Parade wows downtown visitors

Crowds were not disappointed by a tremendous turnout for the 69th annual Santa Parade in downtown Rockford on Saturday, December 1. Typical for Rockford, many volunteers helped the days event run smoothly, from the first vehicle in the parade with Rockford Police Chief Dave Jones and wife Sandy to the horse-drawn carriage carrying Santa himself.

A wide variety of imaginative floats, including area businesses, churches, scout troops and plenty of very loud fire trucks from local departments kept the action interesting. Rockford fire fighters walked the route holing out boots for monetary donations for Toys for Tots. The Rockford City Council mostly walked the route along side the horse-drawn carriage. This may have been among the warmest days for the Santa Parade with temperatures in the mid 50s. Sunny smiles added to the bright colors of the parade.

There are many more holiday events lined up now until Christmas, including free carriage rides in downtown Rockford Thursday and Fridays through December 21. Rides are from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. There will be a free holiday concert on December 9 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Rockford Fine Arts Auditorium at Rockford High School, 4100 Kroes. Meet with Santa at the Rotary Pavilion at the corner of Courtland and Squires Street on Wednesday, December 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. and see Santa there with live reindeer Wednesday, December 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Throughout the holiday season, stroll downtown Rockford to visit local shops with unique gifts, vote by donation on the gingerbread house contest decorating contest by local school children and appreciate the beauty of the town decked out for the holidays.

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