Oct. 3, 1982 – First motorcycle toy run rumbles through town

Prince George motorcycle enthusiasts held their first annual toy run — to collect and donate Christmas gifts for needy children — on the first Sunday of October, 1982. However, the inaugural charitable event didn’t initially generate the type of community reception that riders were hoping for.

“We had a heck of a time giving away the toys . . . because of the stigma attached to motorcyclists,” one participant told the Prince George Citizen the following September. “But when I see a man hock possessions like tools to buy toys for kids, it makes me think there must be a lot of good in him.”

Fortunately, any misgivings about the motorcyclists’ intentions evaporated once the the 60-odd bikers rode through town to deliver over $6,000 worth of new toys to the Prince George Fire Department and Kinsmen Club of Prince George for distribution over Christmas.

The following year, 1983, 110 riders motored along city streets and donated $3,000 worth of toys to the Salvation Army. Thus began a partnership that has continued every year until this day.

The 2014 Salvation Army Toy Run, organized by Harley-Davidson Prince George, the Prince George Salvation Army and local motorcycle clubs, saw 465 riders fill 10 watermelon cartons with toys and donate over $3,100 in cash and gift cards to the cause.

A double-wide string of rumbling bikes then motored through several Prince George neighbourhoods, receiving cheers, waves, honks and other signs of support from citizens and motorists along the way.

“Big hearts and happy kids!” one participant wrote on the Harley-Davidson Prince George Facebook page. “Awesome job everyone!!”

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