TOYS FOR TOTS
This website is dedicated to the memory of TFT Parade Member Ed May who created the first Parade website, with Jack Voss, in 1999.
This format was designed by Sharon Allen, and now maintained by Jack Voss.
Copyright 2017. Chicagoland Toys For Tots Motorcycle Parade Org. All rights reserved.
FOLLOW THE PARADE ON
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
THE 40TH ANNUAL CHICAGO
TOYS FOR TOTS
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2017
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 The
Dan Ryan Woods. The Woods open at 6:00AM CST. You will be
given directions of where to go when you arrive. The Parade
leaves The Dan Ryan Woods at 8:30am CST.
WHAT ROUTE DOES THE PARADE TAKE?
The Parade begins at 83rd and Western Avenue,
travels north on Western Avenue and ends at the
Lane Tech/DeVry Campus.
HOW LONG IS THE ROUTE?
The entire distance is just under 20 miles.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The first riders leave at 8:30 AM, and usually arrive in
about 1-1/2 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.
WHERE DOES THE PARADE END?
At the Lane Tech/DeVry Campus. Just south of Addison Avenue.
HOW MANY PEOPLE PARTICIPATE?
In 2012, approximately 70,000 bikers participated
in The Parade, and nearly 1,000,000 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, 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, and arrive on a street-legal motorcycle. 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 has delivered hundreds of thousands
of toys to various hospitals, schools, orphanages, etc., and we have
discovered that while some toys are very welcome, others create
problems. Stuffed animals can no longer be accepted. Toy guns,
knives, whips, brass knuckles, handcuffs, etc. are also discouraged.
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 Christmas time. 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 and in unopened boxes. If an item requires batteries, please tape them to the package. 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. 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?
The toys collected at The Parade itself 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, contact www.toysfortots.org. The toys collected in the Chicagoland Toys for Tots toy boxes are kept in our offices and we distribute them to individuals and groups throughout the city. For more information on the relationship between Chicagoland Toys for Tots and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, click here.
HOW DO PEOPLE GET ACROSS WESTERN AVENUE DURING THE PARADE?
If a single group of 20,000 motorcyclists were to travel through the center of Chicago, traffic and bus routes would be severely hampered. Therefore, The Parade is 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 allows traffic and pedestrians to cross Western Avenue for approximately 15 minutes between each tier.
WHAT DO I NEED TO PARTICIPATE?
Riding participants should arrive at The Dan Ryan Woods with two things; a toy, and a street-legal 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 always welcomes new volunteers.
Click here for information on becoming a member.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
New member dues are $20, renewing member dues are $15 annually.
DO I NEED TO OWN A MOTORCYCLE?
Absolutely not. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.
HOW DO I GET ONE OF THOSE COOL JACKETS WITH THE BEAR
The jacket needs to be specialIY ordered. Shop our online store at
WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER?
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. We suggest that all riders stay aware of the weather, and dress and ride accordingly. If you are a biker, you are resourceful. Be prepared for anything!
DO MANY BIKERS RIDE IN THE PARADE JUST SO THAT THEY CAN GO THROUGH 20 MILES OF CHICAGO WITHOUT STOPPING AT ANY RED LIGHTS?
IF I TRAILER A MOTORCYCLE TO THE PARADE, WHERE CAN I PARK MY TRAILER?
Trailer parking is located in Forest Preserve property at 87th Street and Western Avenue, east of Western and north of 87th Street.
ANY OTHER QUESTIONS, CONTACT US.