The end of the year is jam packed with holidays. There’s the well-known ones like the Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza and best of all, Festivus. Yet there are perhaps lesser-known holidays that do just as much to wrap up the year. One of those is the annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade here in Chicago. It’s the ceremonial, and often literal end to the riding season, and it’s one of our favorites.

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While not an event that we put on ourselves, the parade rides right by our front door on Western Ave each year. So it’s our event after all, if in a different way. We have ridden in the parade from time to time, but since it’s not ours to stage, we participate in our own way with hot chocolate, killer donuts from Roesen’s, and warm waves and smiles for everyone riding by.

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If you haven’t participated in or watched the parade, to say that it’s enormous would be an understatement. The parade is three waves, each with motorcycles stretching from horizon to horizon up Western. Whether riding or not, it’s a terrific celebration of generosity and motorcycling. This year was my first time watching the parade in person and most of all, I just couldn’t believe how many bikes went rolling by. It’s a group more easily measured in time than population. Thousands upon thousands of bikes rumbled by, literally, for several straight hours. If nothing else, it’s encouraging to see just how many motorcycle fans there are in the Chicago area. It says so much about our community and the future of our shared passion for riding and friendship.

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Dozens of our motorcycle pals and customers joined us to watch the parade from the Motoworks Chicago front stoop. Better still, the whole neighborhood seemed to turn up and wave at the bikes as they went by. Under sunny skies and tolerable, above-freezing temperatures, you couldn’t ask for more. Perhaps next year I’ll brave the 5:00 am gathering on the other end of town and make the ride myself. If I did, a stop in at Motoworks for some hot chocolate would likely be just the ticket along the way.

Gallery: Toys for Tots Chicago Motorcycle Parade 2015