Twin City Christmas Parade

By Beau Ebenezer

December 1, 2012 Updated Dec 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- The 83rd annual Jacee's Christmas Parade had everyone's favorite, including Darth Vadar, the ISU Marching Band, and the "Mean One" Mr. Grinch.

But the Grinch isn't stealing anyone's Christmas this year if McLean County Toys for Tots Coordinator Matt Drat has anything to do with it.

"We're only about one third of the way to our goal of 20,000 toys and gifts so we are out here today really making sure the people of Bloomington Normal and McLean County understand the need that the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program has this holiday season," said Drat.

The Marine Corps Toys for Tots made their final campaign push to collect toys during the parade.

They asked everyone to bring a toy to donate during the annual march, something many followed up on.

"The kids are very excited. We let them go shopping yesterday to pick out a few things for kids and we explain to them some kids might not get everything they want for Christmas so they are excited to share the toys today," said Normal resident Jennifer Whitman.

"I think it's really important, you got kids who, otherwise might not get something so it's really good. It's a real good cause it's nice to show him it's nice to give to other people, this time of year especially," said Normal resident Ray Morris.

The parade stretched from Kingsley Junior High in Normal to downtown Bloomington, with Toys for Tots filling their truck to give every child a special Christmas morning.

"We're wanting to make sure that the kids in McLean County don't have to experience that thing. And they can wake up on Christmas morning and know that someone cared about them and Santa is real," said Drat.

There are over 100 drop locations throughout McLean County.

People can find the closest drop location to them online at

McLean's Toys for Tots collection goes until December 17.

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