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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Brighten The Season With A Little Decorating


This year has been difficult due to COVID-19, but some Rockford organizations are urging residents to show their brighter side this holiday season.  

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, along with the City of Rockfordand ComEd, are co-sponsoring #Decorate815. This challenges Rockford residents to decorate their homes and yards.

Barb Chidley is the neighborhood specialist for the City. She said some people need something to uplift their spirits during the winter months. 

“The days are shorter, colder, darker. A little bit of decorating no matter what it is, it's an easy smile. It's a quick win for people to just feel good in the neighborhood. And we need that right now," Chidley explained.

Chidley said this is the first time something like this has taken place. She stated that the idea came from 9th Ward Alderman Bill Rose. She said he works with the North End Square Neighborhood Association and they do an annual decorating contest. So it was decided to do something similar across the city. Chidley added that they wanted this challenge to be easy and stress-free for residents.

“So whatever style, whatever types of decorations they want. We know some people actually celebrate Christmas but others don't. So, it doesn't have to be Christmas decorations," Chidley said. "It can be whatever, just decorate.”

Residents are asked to publicly post their photos to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #Decorate815. The deadline for the winter challenge is at noon on Monday, Dec. 14. A random drawing will be done and the winner will receive $250.  

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.
Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.