Sunday, December 2, 2007

Record crowd turns out for motorcycle toy run


As the deep, throaty rumble of Harleys and Hondas filled the parking lot, hundreds of burly bikers with thick beards and mustaches climbed off their rides and lumbered forward, holding stuffed animals, Barbie dolls and Tonka trucks under their leather-clad arms.
A record crowd turned out for the 20th Annual Santa Barbara Motorcycle Toy Run Sunday morning, cruising up from Carpinteria to the Elks Lodge with gifts in tow.

“It’s a phenomenon,” said Tom Reed, executive director of the Unity Shoppe. “It’s the largest motorcycle ride in Santa Barbara.”
Reed estimated between 600 and 700 bikers participated in the event, all proceeds of which go to the Unity Shoppe. A heaping pile of toys surrounded a Christmas tree out on the lawn as volunteers helped pack them up for a trolley ride back to State Street.
“Look at all the toys these kids are gonna get,” said Jerry Herzberg, an Elks member and lead organizer of the toy run, as he pointed to the stack of gifts.
Last year, raffle tickets and donations brought in about $38,000, Herzberg said.
“This year we should do about the same,” he said.
Reed said while the fundraiser isn’t the largest for the Unity Shoppe, it comes at a great time.
“It’s really helpful this time of the year,” he said, explaining that the charity spends a lot of money on food for needy families during the holidays. “We’ll probably see about 2,500 families come through the Unity Shoppe up to Christmas.”
With a starting line, fittingly enough, at Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria, the motorcycle route wound through Montecito, up State Street and on to the Elks Lodge on Kellogg Avenue.
“That’s the way it’s always been,” Herzberg said of the starting point. “We used to go up to Oak Park, but this is a much better venue.”
As hundreds of participants lined up for a meal of tri-tip, chicken, beans, salad and garlic bread, others headed indoors to listen to the live music of Still Revolving or buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a 2008 Harley-Davidson Road Glide.
“We do the cooking and the serving and let them use the hall,” said Tony Jimenez, a 43-year member of the Elks who spent the day making sure everyone had a full stomach.
Waiting in line to grab a plateful of food, Rudy and Lori Sanchez said they have participated in the toy run on and off for about 15 years.
“The only time we miss is when it rains,” Rudy said.
Other than one motorist who grew impatient and tried to cut through the crowd of bikes at a stoplight, Donna Trimble said the ride went off without a hitch.
“This is one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen,” she said, looking out across the crowded patio.
Police, highway patrol officers and Sheriff’s deputies helped clear the way for the rumbling motorcycles and, despite a few minor issues in the weeks leading up to the event, Reed said they did an excellent job.
“They all worked together really well and did a great job,” he said. “I really want to extend our thanks to them for helping out.”
In addition to live entertainment and plenty of food, participants were treated to a motorcycle stunt show, with several riders popping wheelies, standing up on their seats and burning rubber. As crowds of people climbed up onto picnic tables and gathered around the cordoned-off section of the parking lot, one bystander remarked to another, “The new cowboys, eh?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It must have been a royal motorcycle run in order to have a "Record Crown." :-)