March of the Toy Soldiers

The Marines have landed at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and they're on a mission that has consumed the corps each year about this time for nearly half a century--collecting toys. The annual Toys for Tots program has also become an annual event at the theme park, which is offering free admission to anyone who brings a new, unwrapped toy valued at $10 or more.

"Annually, we collect between 300,000 and 400,000 toys," said Lt. Col. Greg Plush, the Southern California coordinator for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots drive. In the previous 48 years [that the program has been in existence], we've collected 228 million toys across the country."

Plush said that about 30 uniformed Marines will be stationed at the gates to accept toys and hand over tickets to the theme park.

"We give [the toys] out to the Department of Social Services, children's services, churches, community groups, any kind of nonprofit group, for teens to tots," Plush said. "Right now, we're giving toys to Jewish groups for Hanukkah. They go to anybody and everybody, regardless of religion, age, sex or race."

The drive is cosponsored this year by KNBC Channel 4 and KIIS-FM (102.7). On-air personalities will be on hand Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon. The offer is good at the park 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days. Six Flags Magic Mountain, 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia; (805) 255-4111.

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