Event Website: http://chicagolandtft.org/
Date: Sunday December 2nd, 2012
Where does the parade start?
The parade starts at 8300 South Western Ave.(83rd & Western). The bike staging area is a Chicago Forest Preserve called Dan Ryan Woods (see diagram). You will be given directions of where to go when you arrive. The Parade leaves The Dan Ryan Woods at 9:30am CST.
What route does the parade take?
The Parade begins at Western Avenue and 83rd Street (8300 South), travels north on Western, location end to be announced for 2010.
How long is the route?
The entire distance is almost 20 miles
How long does it take?
The first riders leave at 9:30 am, and usually arrive in about 1-11/2 hours. However, due to weather conditions and the number of participants, times can vary. Riders are encouraged to ride at a leisurely pace, to enjoy the event and surrounding atmosphere.
How many people participate?
In 1998 over 22,000 bikers participated in The Parade, and over 100,000 have ridden in The Parade since it began in 1978.
When I arrive in The Dan Ryan Woods, can I ride around until I find my friends?
No, No, No, No, No! All riders who enter The Woods, will have to park their bikes until The Parade begins. The Toys For Tots Volunteers will direct the incoming riders, but will not permit any riding through The Woods. We welcome all riding groups, clubs, gangs, families, tribes, etc., but if you want to ride The Parade in a group, you must arrive at The Woods, en masse (in a group). We suggest that groups assemble somewhere in the vicinity of 83rd Street and Western Avenue, at a nearby restaurant, school, parking lot or tavern, before coming to The Woods.
Do just people from the Chicago area ride in the parade?
The Parade welcomes ALL MOTORCYCLISTS, provided they bring at least one toy to donate to the Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots Program. We encourage all riders to join us, and we frequently see bikes from Alaska and Hawaii. Even non-riders can participate by bringing toys to The Parade route, and giving the toys to the bikers as they ride by.
What kinds of toys would be best to bring?
Over the years, Toys for Tots programs have delivered thousands of toys to various hospitals, schools, orphanages, etc., they have discovered that while some toys are very welcome, others create problems. Stuffed animals can no longer be accepted. Because of hygienic problems, many juvenile institutions will not accept stuffed animals. PLEASE, NO STUFFED ANIMALS.
Toy guns, knives, whips, brass knuckles, handcuffs, etc. are also looked down on. And remember, NO FOOD, NO PETS.
When selecting a toy, please remember that not only young children, but many teenagers and young adults also need your help at Christmastime. Therefore we need sports equipment (bats, baseballs, gloves, footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, bicycles), up to date items for teenagers and maybe some batteries to go along with some items, board games, books, dolls, toy cars, toy trucks, toy planes, toy boats, and toy motorcycles. All items should be new, never used condition, in unopened boxes. Please don't forget the batteries if the item needs them, tape some securely to the item.
Protect the toys from bad weather, but do not gift wrap your toy donations. Toys must be sorted by age and sex before being delivered, so they must not be wrapped, and some institutions will not let their children receive wrapped toys. All wrapped toys must be unwrapped before they will be accepted into the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade Program.
Toys for Teens information can be found at Best Buy Toys for Teens.
Special needs children need toys also. Please consider a toy for a special needs child. Look for items that have buttons, make noise, light up or just easy for hands/fists to work. Some children have trouble with hand functions. Think of how you would operate a toy with closed hands.
Where do the toys go? Who gets them?
The toys are given to the Marine Corps Reserve and they distribute them.
Anyone who wishes to receive toys for underprivileged children should contact their local church, school, hospital or community aid organization.
Chicago area groups that would like to be considered to receive toys to distribute, please notify:
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program
3034 West Foster Avenue, Chicago, 60625. Phone 773-539-7393
For assistance outside the Chicago area, click here for your local Marine Coordinator
How do people get across Western Ave. during the parade?
If a single group of 20,000 motorcyclists were to travel through the center of Chicago, normal traffic, bus routes, and especially emergency situations, would be severely hampered. Therefore, The Parade will be divided into 4 or 5 groups , called Tiers. The Parade begins with Tier 1, which usually contains approximately 5,000 riders. When Tier 1 leaves The Woods, there will be an interval of approximately 15-20 minutes before Tier 2 is released. This will allow traffic and pedestrians to cross Western Avenue for approximately 15 minutes between each Tier.
What do I need to do to participate?
Riding participants should arrive at The Dan Ryan Woods with two things; a toy, and a motorcycle to ride. Non-riders can participate by bringing toys to The Woods, or anywhere on Western Avenue, along The Parade route.
Who organizes the parade?
The Parade is organized by volunteers from the Chicago area who care about unfortunate children, promoting motorcycles, and having fun.
Can I become involved?
The Parade Organization will always welcome new volunteers. Please use the "Becoming a member" link for more details.
How much does it cost?
New members are charged $20.00, renewing members are charged $15.00 annually.
Do I need to own a motorcycle?
Non-riders are also welcome. Cycles are not mandatory, but a dedicated, helpful attitude is.
How do I get one of those cool jackets with the Bear on it?
The jacket needs to be special ordered.
What happens if bad weather brings several inches of snow, or it's 20 degrees below zero? Any rain-out date?
The weather in Chicago can be a challenge, but The Parade will always take place on the first Sunday in December, rain or shine or snow or cold, regardless of atmospheric conditions. We suggest that all riders stay aware of the weather, and dress and ride accordingly. And remember to prepare your cycle also. Don't wait until the night before The Parade, to discover that your bike needs work. If you are a biker, you are resourceful. Be prepared for anything!