OCEANSIDE — It was holiday magic as the roar of motorcycles sounded and the gleam of chrome shined around boxed toys and teddy bears strapped to the back of more than 250 motorcycles. The riders took off from Oceanside Harbor for the 24th annual Toys for Tots run to Pauma Valley Casino on Nov. 5.
Motorcycles and riders were decked out in a mix of black leather and holiday red and green for the ride. At the end of the line of riders, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus rode on a Goldwing motorcycle and sleigh sidecar.
For most riders, half of the fun was the scenic drive.
“I’m not the typical woman who had to be convinced to ride on a bike,” Jo Ann Freund, Goldwing Road Riders Association Chapter CA1N member, said. “We get together. We have a common bond. You’re never not accepted.”
At the casino, riders unpacked the toys, cashed in event raffle tickets, chowed down on a hot lunch, watched a team motorcycle demonstration, and some did a little bit of gambling.
Last year the Goldwing Road Riders Association Chapter CA1N holiday toy run collected 3,000 toys for local kids in need, despite the rainy weather. This year participants hoped to top that number of donations.
There are dozens of holiday toy runs hosted by Goldwing Road Riders chapters in the Southwest region that includes California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. The toy runs are calendared for different weekends so riders can support fellow chapters that donate to the Toys for Tots program.
Each motorcycle chapter zeros in on the needs in its area.
Locally the U.S. Marines seek out families who cannot afford gifts for their children. Many of the toys are given to children of military families.
Riders of all faiths find the toy drive a nice way to wrap up the year.
Freund is Jewish and has never celebrated Christmas, but said she sees the value in making sure children have toys for the holidays. “I have no problem giving toys to kids,” Freund said.
“People can be Christian, Muslim, Jewish. It’s a joy to give toys to kids that don’t have any. If you pay it forward it’s a much better world.”