Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another season in the book....

We have a traditional hot rod run we do here in Stafford, VA on the second Saturday in December that’s called Santa’s Helpers Toy Run.  It’s our way of participating in the local USMC Toys For Tots program.  This is the fourth year Dan has planned the event and last Saturday was “T” day!
Friday evening Dan and I discussed what the weather guessers were forecasting for the next day so we could determine what kind of vehicles to use on the run.  They were forecasting sleet, ice, snow, rain, hurricane, tornado, Derecho, the early arrival of Daylight Savings time, earthquakes and a general armageddon that would leave our earthly orb smoking and hurtling through space producing the end of the world as we know it.  So….we decided to err on the side of safety and use daily drivers instead of hot rods….   It would be safer if any of the prognostications of the weather weenies came true.   We contacted everyone we could via Facebook, email and phone calls to advice of our decision.  The object of the day’s activities was to provide as many toys for the USMC Toys For Tots campaign as we could while mixing socially with friends that we may not see till March when the new season begins.  We wanted to make the run with the hot rods but we also wanted to return home with all the parts on the cars that we left with!  So most of us drove our daily drivers….most of us….not all, just most.
Around 10AM people began congregating at the Chill’s restaurant in N. Stafford, in Stafford Marketplace.  The manager, Derek, is enthusiastic about the gathering and the mission of the day….Toys For Tots.  Derek opened his store early to accommodate our schedule and had his staff fired up to make the beginning of our event a positive one.  He also arranged to have 20% of money that was spent on food during our visit, to be donated to Toys For Tots!  Our group mingled for a couple hours and then it was time to go….  No bad weather yet….we were still ahead of the end of the world!
One of the things Dan sets up is to have the Stafford County Sherriff’s office provide an escort for our band of cruisers and I’m told that it is one of the high points of the day.  In years past I would leave Chili’s about half an hour earlier than the rest of the group so I could run to the USMC museum and take a video of the group as they arrive.  But this year since we were using our daily drivers I would leave with the rest of the group and would be able to experience the “escorted” cruise….it was very cool.  Dan’s son, Deputy Crane, met with the cruisers in the commuter lot to explain how the escort was going to work and how we had to drive.  It’s always better to explain things so the procession moves effectively and safely.  It was only a 6 mile cruise to the museum but thanks to the Deputies it was smooth and trouble free.
Some of the car clubs from the north met us at the museum so there were about 32 cars total….which was down a lot from last year’s 87 vehicles….no doubt due to the abovementioned end of the world prediction….  But many people had purchased toys so they gave them to the people that were going to attend the event so in the end we contributed a massive amount of toys for the program. 
After dropping off the toys most of us gathered in small pods to talk and catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while.  Some visited the displays of the museum that helped us understand what it means to be a US Marine.  The rich history that is on display chronicles the exploits of the Corps….it is truly something that one must experience.  Duty, Honor, Country….  Something that is sadly foreign to most in D.C. nowadays. 
Some stayed till Mr. & Mrs. Santa arrived at 3PM but most without small children left by 2PM or so.  The Princess and I said our goodbyes and cruised north for lunch at Cracker Barrel with some friends.  While going through Dumfries we got caught in the tail end of the Christmas Parade that was winding down.  The Princess got to practice her ‘Prom Wave’ out the sunroof of our car….you have no idea.  After lunch we motored home and I guess the weather weenies were wrong…. again…. Surprise?  Although it did rain a little on the way home so I guess it was a good decision to not bring out the hot rods….
This ends the 2013 season for us and I will start posting again in March.  Please check out the pictures of this event at;

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