Tens of thousands of motorcyclists swarmed Dan Ryan Woods Sunday morning for the 40th annual Toys For Tots Motorcycle Parade.
It’s the largest motorcycle parade in the world.
“The universe. I have not heard anyone contest that so I’m going to keep saying it,” said Lester Fortier, president of the Toys for Tots Chicagoland Motorcycle Parade.
“I always smoke a cigar at Toys for Tots for some reason just for celebration,” said biker Patti Stimatz.
She said she wasn’t just out there for the camaraderie.
“Just to bring toys to kids who can’t afford to buy the toys I have kids so just to make it special for them and we should make it special for every child,” Stimatz said.
She’s been riding in the Toys for Tots Parade every year for 15 years and she’s always getting others involved.
“Didn’t really have to wrangle me too much, I love the holiday. It’s good for the community and the people and I love Christmas,” said biker Sandra Vintartis.
The riders are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy for a needy kid this Christmas, and there are people who definitely bring more than one.
Some go to the Marine Corps, others are sorted and distributed across the community.
Tom Dirtz, Vice President, Chicagoland Toys for Tots motorcycle Parade
“Anywhere we can try to help we step in and help,” said Tom Dirtz, vice president of the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.
Governor Bruce Rauner joined pack this year. The bikers even got a special blessing as they headed out.
The ride started at Dan Ryan Woods and before traveling north to Devry. The spirit of giving was in the air, and so was the sound of motorcycles revving their engines.
Organizers said the turnout is the largest it’s been in recent years, likely in part due to the weather.