Thanksgiving Day is this Thursday, and before you can finish off that mountain of leftovers, the 5th annual Stroll on State happens on Saturday--kicking off Rockford's holiday season. Whether you've been to Stroll on State before, or you're new to what's quickly becoming Rockford's favorite event, the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB) has some suggestions to maximize your experience.

New events and experiences have been added to this year's Stroll, including the parade through downtown Rockford:

This year's parade is super-sized! Stroll on State's Holiday Parade, presented by The Power Connection - IBEW 364 & NECA, will step off at 3 p.m. and stroll from the Rockford Public Library on Wyman Street south to State Street and then east across the State Street bridge and ending at N. 3rd Street. Featuring festive floats, high school bands and a few extra surprises, the parade is a new highlight of the event.

So, you showed up for Stroll only to realize you forgot to bring some cash. No problem:

Illinois Bank & Trust is providing ATMs at several locations on the Stroll on State grounds for your convenience. You can find the ATMs between Wyman and Main Streets, at the City Market Pavilion, near the Hot Chocolate Express, at the corner of E. State and 1st Streets, and near the Kringle Cafe located at State and 3rd Streets.

You'll get the opportunity (or, your kids will) to visit with not one, but two Santas:

There's not only one, but TWO SantaLands produced by City First Church! One location is west of the river inside Stewart Square and the other is outdoors on the east side of the river by Millennium Fountain. No need to worry, Santa will work his Christmas magic and be at both locations, so be sure to get those Christmas lists ready.

For those who wonder if maybe their kids are too small to bring downtown for Stroll:

Stroll on State is perfect for the whole family, even the little ones! There are a couple indoor locations on site for nursing mothers and diaper changing stations.

If you don't feel like driving downtown and then searching all over for a place to park, how about a shuttle option instead:

If you don't want to worry about parking downtown the night of Stroll on State, there are three shuttle buses you can take! Pick up a shuttle bus at the YMCA downtown (200 Y Blvd.), Heartland Community Church (1280 S. Alpine Rd.) or Illinois Bank & Trust (4048 E. State St.). Park at any one of these locations and a bus will bring you directly to the Stroll grounds!

Survey respondents to the RACVB indicated that they'd like more live entertainment options:

There are three music stages throughout the grounds this year! The Merry & Bright Stage sponsored by SwedishAmerican, a division of UW Health, as well as the Silver Bell Stage and the Jingle Bell Stage, both sponsored by the Northwestern Illinois Building Trades Unions. In addition, selections from the "Nutcracker Suite" will be performed by Steps to Grace Dance Academy at Veterans Memorial Hall. The Nordlof Center will also have entertainment including "James and the Giant Peach" presented by The Studio, an adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" by Gigi's Playhouse, and a "Christmas-Kwanzaa Celebration" by Rockford Readers Theater.

Make sure you don't miss the tree-lighting ceremony and the fireworks:

This is the moment when the community gathers together to officially kick off the holiday season with Rockford's official tree lighting ceremony beginning at 6 p.m.! The tree is located at the corner of State & Wyman Streets. Sponsored by SwedishAmerican, a division of UW Health. The Sky Lights Fireworks Show sponsored by Gallagher Williams-Manny Insurance Group immediately follows the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Arrive early to claim your viewing spot!

For more details and ideas on how to get the most out of this year's Stroll on State, click here.