OCEANSIDE — While the turnout was a few hundred less people than in previous years, close to 250 motorcycle riders showed up to get Toys for Tots gifts delivered to Casino Pauma for Marine Corps pickup on Nov. 20.
Rainy conditions limited the sheriff and police escorted run from Oceanside to Pauma Valley to experienced riders. Others followed in their cars that were loaded up with toys. “In 23 years it’s the first time we’ve been rained out,” Len Foley, Gold Wing Road Riders CA1N chapter director, said.
“We’ll do our best,” Woody Woodruff of Carlsbad, aka Santa Claus, said. “We have got to get the toys to kids.”
The wet weather impacted the turnout, but did not dampen the spirits of those who were there for the toy run. Barbara and George Francis of Hemet pulled a tarp-covered trailer full of toys behind their Honda Goldwing. “They all came from our pocket,” Barbara Francis said. “There are two bikes in there. We’ve been doing the toy run for years. It’s addictive.”
Barbara Francis said she and her husband collect toys all year for the toy run. They have participated in Toys for Tots runs for more than 30 years in Utah, Colorado, and now in California. “As long as we can both get on that motorcycle, we’ll bring the toys,” Francis said.
Woodruff rode the lead bike and sled as Santa Clause for the 15th year. “It’s good for kids to know why we’re celebrating and have something to celebrate with,” Woodruff said. “It’s nice for them to know someone remembered them.”
Last year 700 participants donated more than 1,000 toys. This year the hope is to match last year’s number of donations. “All toys go to needy children in San Diego, “ Gary Andrews, Toys for Tots assistant coordinator, said. “It’s a real good feeling helping local kids in need.”