On Monday, August 15th (8/15, huh I wonder….) we will be celebrating anything and everything Rockford! Expect to see me in an Art Deli t-shirt while eating a glorious Beefaroo burger in one hand and holding a sock monkey in the other as I gaze upon Symbol thinking about how far we’ve come as a community.
You may be wondering, “Where did this idea come from? Who do I have to thank for making a holiday that celebrates my community?”
Enter, Rockford Community Partners.
They kind of keep a low-ish profile but Rockford Community Partners (formerly EDEEN) is a group of who’s who in the Rockford region. The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, the City of Rockford, Transform Rockford, the Rockford School District, every Business District Association, United Way, the Rockford Park District, and so many more groups have representatives at these meetings that it’s crazy to see everyone come together, develop, and implement community projects.
I’ve had the fortune to attend a few of these meetings myself, and I learned the idea for Rockford Day came from Kimberly Bruce, the director of communications at the City of Rockford. She’s originally from Milwaukee and on April 14th (4/14) she went back home to celebrate Milwaukee Day. 414 happens to be Milwaukee’s area code, so the idea there was to make April 14th a local holiday where businesses and attractions offer deals using those three numbers ($4.14, $14.14, etc.) and locals would go do the most Milwaukeean things possible (I’m honestly trying to picture what that would even look like #Milwaukeeknownothing).
She saw a great opportunity to bring this neat idea to her new home of Rockford, Illinois that just so happens to have a way better area code to base events off than Milwaukee (I’m obviously biased but it’s true considering August is a month people don’t typically freeze their butt off in the weird sleety rain April brings).
She pitched the idea, Rockford Community Partners loved it, and Rockford Day was born!
Rockford Community Partners is also being really smart about this and not getting bigger than their britches. When I first heard of it I was picturing floats, and fireworks, and music, and dancing sock monkeys but….that may be a few years away (I really want those dancing sock monkeys. I will be a dancing sock monkey if I have to be).
On this first Rockford Day, you’ll find many businesses pricing things around $8.15 or $18.15 depending on the item’s normal cost; and area amenities giving discounted (or even free!) admission. It’s the second to last day of summer vacation for Rockford Public Schools, so this’ll be a great end-of-summer shebang for the whole family! Go to Magic Waters! Go to the Discovery Center! Get out of the house and have some fun! Some deals are for the full week, but others are just for the day (you can check right here).
We’ve come so far as a community, and I can’t wait to celebrate it! From a saw mill off Kent Creek to an industrial giant and now a growing aerospace and healthcare cluster, Rockford knows how to reinvent herself while staying true to her "maker" roots. Now let's make this day mean something.