Chicagoland Toys for Tots: Western Avenue rolling closures on Sunday


The 2015 parade heading north with Santa driving

The 39th Annual Chicagoland Toys for Tots drive in Chicago will step off from 83rd and Western Ave. at 9:30 a.m. on Sun., Dec. 4, in multiple groups (tiers) with 15 minutes between each, prompting rolling street closures on Western up to the Lane Tech/DeVry campus, just south of Addison before noon. 


While riders are not required to dress in custume, many do

Anyone with a legal license on their motor cycle and a brand new toy is encouraged to be a part of this  20-70,000 rider experience. [The 70,000 count is from the City of Chicago who uses their street cameras.] 

The staging area is the Chicago Forest Preserve's Dan Ryan Woods. The  Woods opens at 6 a.m. The 20- mile ride takes about 1.5 hours, but that is dependent on construction, weather  and number of riders.

Headed by Santa, the first wave (tier) of riders heads north. A 15-minute break before the next group takes off gives people and traffic all along the way  time to cross Western Ave. "People often see one tier and then think it is all over but there are at least four or five," explains Jack Voss who has been involved in this project since 1983. 


Bob Snyder, another longtime participant, delivers so many toys that he has a trailer for his motorcycle

Along the parade route, anyone can give toys to the riders who will take them to the collection. To be able to see and get close to the wide range of bikes from antiques to new, small and large, everyone is invited to go to the ending point of the ride. "There are even bikes from Alaska and Hawaii," said Voss, who seemed to find that incredible himself. 

"It costs us about $40,000 to put on the parade for such things as permits, insurance, electronic signs, radios  and all the other things," said Voss. 


Santa delights everyone along the parade route and at the final destination

Their efforts result in a warehouse full of toys each year, since their initial modest beginning in 1978.

Totally run by volunteers, they have a separate group which handles the distribution of the toys. Thousands of requests for the toys flood their Bridgeview location each year. 

While they distribute some to the Marine Corp.Toys for Tots organization, most of the Chicagoland Toys for Tots presents go to individuals and are delivered by the group's volunteers.  

Photos courtesy of Jack Voss



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