Annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade rides through Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands of bikers hit the road Sunday morning in Chicago as part of the annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.

"This is a wonderful event for the community and we enjoy being part of it," said Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II.

Around 50,000 bikers hit the road every December to spread the holiday cheer.

The group collects new and unwrapped toys to donate to families in need around Chicago. Each biker is asked to bring at least one item.

"It is very important for the underprivileged kids of Chicago. We took care of about 5,500 families and over 50,000 kids," said George Fortier, president of the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.

For the past 41 years, the group has delivered hundreds of thousands of toys to orphanages, hospitals, and schools in the Chicago area. The toys are not only for kids, but also for teens and adults - many who then join the parade.

"There is a lot of people that have been in this parade that remember getting the help as a child and then they get back involved and join the organization," Fortier said.

Governor Bruce Rauner donated money to the organization and then hit the road with Santa.

"The people of Chicago and of Illinois are so generous and warm and caring with big hearts and riders especially are very generous. This is a great tradition," Rauner said.

Members of the Chicago Fire Department were also along for the ride. Those first responders said the need for holiday cheer in many neighborhoods they serve around Chicago is much bigger than people expect.

"It is a huge problem and it is something that as a whole we can address as a city," Ford said.
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