Annual Toys for Tots parade returns to Chicago after COVID cancellation

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A cold, rainy December day was not enough to stop the sounds and the warmth of a holiday tradition.

“It’s a sight when you see them coming down Western, the fire trucks, the busses,” Maynard Marsh of the Chicagoland Motorcycle Parade said.

For more than 40 years the event has drawn thousands of bikers on a 15-mile trip from 8500 S. Western Avenue to Lane Tech High School with the mission of collecting thousands of toys for those in need.

“We take care of Chicagoland kids. We ask them to write us a letter with a contact person, name and gender, and mail it to us and we’ll make sure they get toys,” Marsh said.

Last year, the parade was cancelled for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations were down, with the goal of matching pre-pandemic totals this year.

“Our average is 80,000 to 90,000 for taking care of children. The need is there and this year, even more than ever,” Marsh said.

For those who came out braving the weather, just being able to be back is a welcome feeling.

“When you see Santa and elves coming up Western and you see the first tier of bikes, you’re going to get to know what the meaning of Christmas is in the city of Chicago,” Matt Ksycki of the Chicagoland Motorcycle Parade said.

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