Three thousand five hundred motorcycles. That's the estimated participation for Olympia's 39th Annual Toy Run. Many cycles had two riders, and many more attended the event but didn't ride. In this town of about 50,000 the rumble of that many motorcycles makes a very audible mark.
|Many motorcycles had their own decorations|
The Olympia Toy Run started back in 1977 as the brainchild of Joe Sullivan who wanted to provide under-privileged kids with Christmas gifts and build a better relationship between the local community and the biker community. He envisioned the toy run as a way to do both in a big way.
|This gentleman sat waiting patiently for the ride to begin, then asked to see my sketches.|
Every year for the past 39, on the first Saturday of December, the motorcyclists from throughout the northwest roar through town bringing with them an energetic display of joy and generosity. "It's all about the kids," is the event motto.
The day starts with the annual Free Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast at the local Northwest Harley Davidson outlet. Cyclists start gathering about 10 A.M. in the Sears' parking lot of South Sound Center in Lacey. Vendors line the parking lot selling a variety of wares. Performances start at 11 - this year it was stunt riders.
|The rain began as I was sketching the Drifting Donut truck. I had to work fast.|
The official ride begins at 1 P.M. proceeding from Lacey through downtown Olympia and ending up at Marathon Park beneath the shadow of the State Capital dome. Thousands of spectators line the streets waving, calling and whistling to the riders.
I arrived at South Sound Center around 11:30 after the performances. The lot was filled with black leather. Some groups sported their local club affiliation. I spotted the event organizer right away - Santa Joe Sullivan. He sat on his motorcycle with his side car at the front of the line wearing his Santa suit, welcoming old friends, posing for photos with kids (some also sporting motorcycle leathers). While I was sketching, standing about five feet away from Joe, I watched as a young woman and two children approached. I saw the woman, who was a little teary-eyed, hand Sullivan a photo and watched as he received it tenderly. "He'll ride with us today," he told her as he tucked the photo into his saddlebag