With a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox AWD LTZ as my "Sleigh" for this year (appropriately delivered with a Siren Red Tintcoat exterior and Jet Black interior), our entire family kicked-off the holiday season as we always do, with a visit to the Chicago Toy & Game Fair at Navy Pier. This is our fourth year covering ChiTAG in an official capacity, but it's the first year that Chevrolet was a sponsor. As usual, my social feeds were overflowing with toys and adventure - highlights including our friends from Spin Master, back to ChiTAG for a second year, and this year presented a MASSIVE display that included their life-sized PAW Patroller vehicle from the Nick Jr. hit, PAW Patrol, along with costumed characters and hands-on play with some of the hottest toys of the season.
MECCANO, LITTLE CHARMERS, AIR HOGS (including the fantastic STAR WARS Millennium Falcon), STAR WARS' Legendary Yoda, KINETIC SAND, ZOOMER KITTY... Spin Master has a phenomenal lineup, and the response from the kids spoke volumes.
Razor was back once more, and while they're always a highlight, this year was something really special - I ended up being one of their daily prize winners, an assortment of new Razor products (including the new Razor Jr. Lil' Crazy Cart) arriving here at Rock Father HQ (where they've been stashed until Xmas). As usual, the line to ride some of the latest products from Razor was deep, and I even got in on the action, trying out the Razor DXT Drift Trike.
Addie's favorite was the Razor DeltaWing, while Finn loved that Lil' Crazy.
Haywire Group scored a big hit by importing the popular Worry Eaters from Europe, while Uncle Milton was showing off their latest STAR WARS Science kits. Aside from their excellent Jedi Holocron (featured in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide), Addie really loved the Jedi Force Levitator (a trick of static electricity). Noochie Golf (reviewed here) was back for a victory lap after debuting at the 2013 ChiTAG, and JENGA GIANT (reviewed here) was stackin' and toppling. Another new exhibitor this time around was Moose Toys, who brought the insanely popular Shopkins to ChiTAG, but it was Qixels and Little Live Pets that scored the interest of The Rock Daughters. And who brought the big yellow truck? TONKA, of course - and their new Climb-Overs are gonna be big next year.
With another busy ChiTAG behind us, the folks from Chevrolet hosted our family and five others for a #ChevyShopsForGood kick-off party at Lucky Strike, after which I laid-out my plans for stretching our dollars into something much bigger.
With a head-start on our shopping for good, we decided to spread the wealth between retailers a little bit, with the girls and I making some very specific purchases at Target and Toys "R" Us...
In order to really stretch things, Finn, Addie and myself made a run to The Mattel Toy Store in Wilmot, Wisconsin again, taking advantage of some incredible deals and near wholesale pricing to fill the Equinox to capacity.
Back at home, I had one more trick up my sleeve, and that came thanks to my friends at The Step2 Company in Ohio. Having served as a Brand Ambassador for them over the past few years, I had some credit left over there, and they helped me stretch that as well with a FedEx drop of some great toys for some of the younger kids we're helping out. Cool sidebar, I was able to pick-out my items while using the Onstar 4G LTE Wi-fi inside the 2016 Chevy Equinox.
On "Cyber Monday," while Addie was at school, Finn and I headed over to Avon Township to make our delivery. While we're not sure just how good we did (we'll get numbers in January), I'm confident that through the gracious assistance of our sponsors, and the money that we personally contributed along with our time, the toys we've delivered should bring smiles to even more local children this holiday season.
The way it works is that a case worker identifies the families that are most deserving, and they are invited to come into the office and "shop." This allows these families to have gifts under the tree that can come from Santa Claus, Mom & Dad, or whoever they choose. In the end, the children will never know that they were delivered by a mysterious rock & roller with the help of his wife and daughters.
As we forge ahead into 2016, I'm already wondering how we can do even more... but I want to keep it hyper-local, with all donations staying in this community. I'm plotting...
Thanks to Chevrolet and OnStar for partnering not only with THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, but with other local writers who have all put their own spin on what #ChevyShopsForGood means as they spread Holiday Cheer throughout Chicagoland in unique ways.
The 2016 Chevy Equinox is available now starting at a $22,600 MSRP (as pictured here, $34,755). It's one of General Motors' best-selling vehicles, and we can attest to that - we own a 2012 model as a daily driver here at Rock Father HQ.