Santa (aka Red Young) leads the charge of over 100 riders on the first leg of the South Okanagan Toy Run on Lakeshore Drive Sunday. Organized by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association

Santa (aka Red Young) leads the charge of over 100 riders on the first leg of the South Okanagan Toy Run on Lakeshore Drive Sunday. Organized by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association

Okanagan bikers hit the road to spread holiday cheer

Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association stage the 25th annual South Okanagan Toy Run

The rumbling of a hundred throttling motorcycles shattered the morning quiet of Lakeshore Drive Sunday, but it was all for a good cause.

Leaving Rotary Park, the riders, some with plush, stuffed passengers clinging to the seats behind them, took off on the first leg of the 25th annual South Okanagan Toy Run.

Organized by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association, the event brings in cash and toy donations by participants and the general public.

Even with a late summer tingle in the air, the clear skies promised a perfect day in the saddle for those from throughout the valley who showed up.

“This was one of the better ones we’ve ever had,” said organizer Roy Colmer afterwards. “We had a great turnout and along with the toys we raised $1,638.50, which is the largest amount of money we’ve ever raised. Last year was $1,000, so we added another 600 bucks this year.”

He added the camaraderie was tremendous and every stop along the route where there were raffles, the bikers pulled money out of their pockets, “by the handful.”

Proceeds go to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Penticton and are distributed to needy families at Christmas.

Stage one of the ride was to Summerland, followed by a turnaround for the trip south with stops in Oliver and Osoyoos, back to Okanagan Falls and the completion of the loop along Eastside Road into Penticton.

According to Colmer, the overall success of this year’s ride is a true testament to the caring nature of everyone involved.

“Especially Penticton, this is just such a giving community, I can’t say enough about the business community and the people in general,” he said.

“It’s just a great place to live and supportive-wise you couldn’t ask for any better.”

Red Young, who for as long as most people can remember has dressed up in his Santa suit for the trip to provide a little bit of the spirit of the season, was also back again.

“Why do I do it? I guess cause they won’t let me quit,” he said with a laugh. “Seriously, it helps out the kids and helps out the St. Vincent de Paul.”

But true to character, he can’t help but toss in an added bit of humour.

“It’s like peeing yourself with dark pants on: it makes you feel warm and tingly but nobody really notices,” said Young. “That’s a Charles Schultz (Peanuts cartoonist) comment from years ago, but it fits.”

Mrs. Claus this year was Denice Brachmann and she expressed her reasons for going along with a bit more tact: “This is a way to do something for the needy kids and I always like to give back to our community because someday I may need the help too.”

The riders finished their day much the way it began: with a meal at the park, lots of handshakes and even a hug or two.

And in the spirit of the season, the real winners three months from now will be the kids.