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Car Show: 5th Annual Chilis Toys for Tots

5th Annual Chilis Toys for Tots

N. Stafford VA
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Photos by: Charles Shotwell

Saturday December 6, we cruised about 4 miles to the Chili’s Restaurant in N. Stafford, VA and the beginning of the 5th Annual Toys For Tots run.  Our friend and fellow Cruisin For Heroes member, Dan, pretty much orchestrates the whole event.  The Chili’s manager has his staff open the store early so we can start forming up around 9AM….they usually open at 11AM.  We don’t leave till about Noon so there is plenty of time to socialize and have brunch.  The Princess flits around taking pictures and checking on people to make sure they are being taken care of and are having a good time.  I usually take most of the pictures at the events we attend.  But the Princess is getting much better dealing with the technical aspects of photography to the point that she is taking much better pictures and giving us all a run for our money on the quality of her images!  Fred and Bill also chronicled the day’s activities in photographs and were joined by Yvonne at the Museum.  This year Chili’s has embraced the Toys For Tots charity full tilt as there are many more Chili’s stores that are collecting toys for the program this year.  Our Chili’s also gives 20% of the days gross to Toys For Tots!  And there is to be a special presentation to the USMC Toys For Tots program this year from Chili’s!

The weatherguessers were forecasting rain most of the day with periods of heavy rain.  But when we were ready to leave home it was dry!  And last year snow was forecasted so the only one that drove a hot rod was Dan and his black ’55 Chevy.  Dan was committed again this year so I decided to take the truck even if rain was likely to fall.  I knew the Northern Virginia Mustang club was going to join us this year and most of them would be driving their Mustangs….so we HAD to show up with something special.  In the end there was about 20 “special” cars and another 30 daily drivers.  Some other people met us at the Museum and made the day’s total near 60….I think?  It is exceedingly difficult to count them all but I think 55-60 would be close.

Dan arranges to have the Stafford County Sheriff Deputies escort us all the way to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, located in Triangle, VA., about 9 miles away.  This makes herding the vehicles much safer and enjoyable than if we tried to find our own way up Rt. 1 with a group that large.  I think the Deputies like to help us plus they get a free brunch at Chili’s thanks to the donations of the cruisers that make the trip with us. 

At 11:20 it began to rain so about 11:45 the participants began to make their way to the commuter lot on Mine Rd. where we would all assemble for the trip.  Deputy Crane ran the “drivers meeting” explaining which lanes we needed to stay in and why.  Also which route we would be taking and that we should keep the distance between vehicles closed up if we can and other pertinent safety information.  Everyone listened intently and knew we would be in good hands.  After all the necessary instructions were given to us I asked Deputy Crane “were we allowed to do burn outs”….everyone laughed….I think Deputy Crane was laughing too….I think….grin.

Our cruise to the Museum was a thrill with the Sheriff’s cruisers blocking traffic so we could have safe uninterrupted passage north.  I think some of the people that were held back at intersecting roads thought they were witnessing a funeral or something.  Some just stared, some looked solemn and some waved….I wonder if people wave at a funeral procession?  Anyway it was a hoot!  Too soon the trip was over and we all parked, then carried our toys inside to the waiting Marines by the Toys For Tots display.

It seems like every year we bring more toys to the Museum….even though we have fewer cars because of the foul weather.  Could it be that some are just bringing a lot of toys?  Yup….I think that’s what is happening.  The amount of toys was overwhelming the Marines that received them.  They moved the security ropes out a little farther every few minutes as they unbagged more toys.  That’s always a good sign that the event is doing what it is supposed to do….provide toys to kids that would otherwise have a bleak Christmas.   The United States Marine Corps Reserve has managed the Toys For Tots since 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks began the program.  This time of year the Toys For Tots presence is ubiquitous around here since the Marine Corps Base Quantico (“Crossroads of the Marine Corps”) is part of our local community.

After all the toys were delivered some in our group, that had never visited the Museum before, began exploring the facility and those that were not first timers visited parts that held a special interest for them.  This museum houses the storied history of the Marine Corps displayed in real artifacts and other teaching aids.  There are a number of ever helpful Museum staff members that can assist you with your visit or you can self guide your travel around the building.  There are a few different levels and many individual rooms; you just can’t see everything adequately in one 2-3 hour visit.  If you haven’t been to this museum you need to put it on your bucket list.

Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus was in the Museum from Noon to 3PM and the ever lengthening line of munchkins waiting to talk to the jolly old round guy, stretched half way around the first floor!  The line consisted mostly of little people with their parents in tow.  Mr. & Mrs. Santa look, talk and act just like the real deal….you have to check them out when you can.  They visited with each child and talked about what the child’s parent had written on a “wish card” when they queued up.  Then as they left Santa, they put the card in a waiting mail box….to be sent on to the North Pole.  How cool is that!

After an hour or so Tony led some of our group in singing some Christmas carols, acapella!  This year he passed out lyric sheets….which is good….but some of us….senior folks couldn’t read the small print, grin  My thought about singing is that it’s better to be loud than good….  We all enjoyed the fellowship, the day, the mission.

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