Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Toys For Tots" Parade, Santa Claus, Chicagoland "Toys for Tots" Motorcycle Parade Organization, Cicero Election, Movie Review: "Skyfall", "Anna Karenina", "Lincoln", Little Village Toy Drive

          TOYS FOR TOTS: More than 40,000 motorcyclists gathered at the Dan Ryan Forest Preserve at 87th St. & Western Ave., Chicago Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. for the beginning of the 35th Annual Chicagoland “Toys For Tots” parade. The weather was perfect; sunny and balmy 64 degrees.
          “EVERY CHILD DESERVES a toy for Christmas” is the motto of the bikers. “This is the largest motorcycle parade, in the country, which collects toys for needy kids,” said Robert “Cooch” Kuczera former president of the “Toys For Tots” organization and this year’s MC. A Proclamation was received by the “Toys For Tots” organization from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. As the bikers waited for the parade to begin they were given instructions by "Cooch" who reminded them of safety being first and “no hot-dogging” in the procession. 
Santa Claus
"Toys for Tots" parade
          BEFORE THE PARADE kicked off at 9:15 a.m. the bikers said the Pledge of Allegiance, and held a moment of silence for the ten [10] bikers who lost their lives in 2012. "Cooch" introduced Santa Claus, who led the parade riding on a Harley-Davidson, and the Marine representatives. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck joined the caravan. Following Santa was a gigantic empty red wagon with Santa’s helpers and a Christmas train and float. One of Santa’s helpers, Elena Lopez, a 5-year volunteer with the “Toys For Tots” organization, is also a licensed motorcycle rider rode in the big red wagon with friends.
          AS BIKERS EXITED the Dan Ryan Woods, Bishop James Wilkowski [a.k.a.“The biker Bishop”] of the Evangelical Catholic Church blessed them by sprinkling them with Holy Water as they passed him. Biker "Shade" has held the front position in the parade for the past 8 years. The caravan of bikers traveled north on Western Ave. and ended at the Lane Tech High School parking lot on Western Ave. & Addison Ave.; the drop-off point for the toys.
Elena Lopez
          THE TOYS are donated to the Marine Foundation 2nd Battalion for children in hospitals and needy families.
          BIKERS CAME from everywhere. Some bikers wore their “leathers”, [leather pants], helmets and colors identifying their Motorcycle Club [MC]. Each biker carried more than one toy to the parade strapped on their motorcycle. The bikes were large and small and of different colors, shapes, models and all beautifully decorated with a Christmas theme.
          MANY MOTORCYCLE CLUBS were represented in the parade. The MC’s with Latino bikers were Latin American Motorcycle Association [LAMA], Barrio Riders MC, American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association of Illinois Chapter 7, Wildfire Hog Chapter MC, Alpha Doggs MC [a law enforcement group], and Teamsters Horsemen Association MC, and the Chi-Town Mustang, a non-bikers group who helped with blocking of traffic every year.
Santa Claus riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle
          CHICAGOLAND Toys For Tots Motorcycle Parade Organization Board of Directors are: President George Lester Fortier, Vice President Tom Dertz, Secretary/Southside Coordinator Peggy Estes a.k.a. “The Gate Lady” because she was in charge of the Southside Forest Preserve entrance, Treasurer Wendy Lanleys, Sgt. at Arms “Doc” Henderson, Parade Coordinator Joy Black, Product Coordinator Joe Ziman, Parliamentarian/Historian Maynard Marsh, Northside Coordinator Debbie “Chica” Giampa and her assistant Sam Johnson, Parking Coordinator “Wendal” who did an great job with parking of the bikes at Lane Tech and other surrounding parking lots. Again, the Chicago Police Department did a fantastic job giving service to the bikers.
Bikers Alejandra Lara, Sergio Infant, Margie "GoGo" Reyes
          THE TOYS FOR TOTS organization had a tent in the parking lot at Lane Tech selling many different kinds of T-shirts and “Toys for Tots” souvenirs.
          MANY spectators watched the “Toys for Tots” parade lined-up along Western Ave. The warm weather made the parade a success and festive. It was a colorful and spectacular parade. I salute the Toys For Tots organization and bikers for their dedication and generosity. 
          NEXT EVENT of the “Toys For Tots” organization is a fund-raiser at the Cicero Stadium, 1909 S. Laramie Ave., Town of Cicero this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A pancake breakfast will be served and Santa Claus will be present to take a photograph with children, free. "Cooch" will read a Christmas story to the kids. Tickets are $6 per person and family of four is $20. There will be a raffle and a 50/50 drawing. For more information contact "Chica" at 630/550-3944.
          CICERO POLITICS: The election for officials in the Town of Cicero, IL is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013.  The deadline for filing was Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. It’s gearing up to be a real political “donnybrook”. Cicero is a suburb west of Chicago with a population estimated to be 84,261, according to the 2011 Census.  Their elections are always full of surprises.
           THERE are five candidates who have announced their candidacy in Cicero election for Town President: incumbent Town President Larry Dominick, Juan Ochoa, Lizveth L. Mendez, Joseph Pontarelli and Ruperto De Loera. The election is non-partisan and the candidate receiving 50+1 votes is the winner.  
          IN THE past 20 years, the racial make-up of Cicero’s population has change dramatically. The town is now 80% Mexican/Latino and the majority is now registered Democrats. This population change is causing the landscape of the politics in Cicero to shift. Cicero’s Democratic Organization Committeeman Charles Hernandez said, “Our organization has endorsed Larry Dominick because he is good for Cicero; and Dominick has the full support of all the local elected Latino leaders”. 
          MOVIE REVIEW: “Skyfall” is an action movie with twists and turns. Skyfall is the twenty-third in the James Bond series of spy films. Actor Daniel Craig who plays James Bond takes a lot of risks as 007. The performance by Javier Barden as the villain in Skyfall was thought provoking. The plot was intriguing and has a surprise ending. I give it 1 star. 
          MOVIE “Anna Karenina” with Keira Knightley as Anna, Jude Law as Alexei Karenin, her aristocrat husband, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Count Vronsky, Anna’s lover, is a passionate love triangle story in Russia written by Leo Tolstoy.  The performances of the actors, [especially by Knightley]; the storyline, costumes and scenery was outstanding and entertaining. I give it 3 stars. 
          MOVIE “Lincoln” is a biopic drama. The portrayal of Abraham Lincoln by Daniel Day-Lewis was superb. This movie is a historical story of the life of Lincoln, the civil war and the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution; abolishing slavery. The film was suspenseful with graphic scenes of the civil war. Performances by all the actors were great. The audience clapped at the end. Day-Lewis should receive an Oscar. I give it 3 stars.