If you are traveling on the road and see hundreds of burly bikers wearing their motorcycle reflective vests and carrying teddy bears, don’t think you are hallucinating, November and December are Motorcycle Toy Run months all over the world.
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE MOTORCYCLE TOY RUNS
Most Toy Runs began in the 1970s, beginning in the States and rapidly spreading worldwide. The first Toy Runs usually had a handful of riders with teddy bears strapped to their bikes. They deliver these to hospitals, children’s homes or other areas where children were in need. Today, cities throughout the world host Toy Runs with thousands of bikers taking part. Bikes are piled high with toys of every description to be distributed to delighted children at Christmas parties.
THE FIRST TOY RUN IN THE UK
Inspired by the success of the toy runs in the States, Stoke on Trent was the first city in the UK, to start a Toy Run in 1978. A few hundred bikers each bought a toy and delivered it to various organisations in the city. There was an entrance fee and the money collected was given to children’s homes to improve their infrastructure.
The bikers of Stoke on Trent were delighted with the day, ending it with a biker’s party. They were so delighted that they decided to do an Egg Run the following Easter. These events now have over 5,000 bikers participating and they have become the biggest events of their kind in the UK. People flock in from other cities to participate and watch the event and join in the big after-party.
THE TIJUANA TOY RUN
Thousands of bikers attend the Tijuana Toy Run which is organised by San Diego Harley Davidson and Tijuana’s Solo Angels. The only requirement is that you bring a stuffed toy which will be loved and cherished by a child over Christmas. This event turns into one of the biggest street parties in the world with over 5,000 bikers and over 10,000 children in the streets of Tijuana, all joining the event. The music is amazing and the street food even better.
THE TOY RUN IN SOUTH AFRICA
It began quietly in 1982 in the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town and has now grown to incorporate over twenty cities in South Africa, with an estimated 75,000 bikers taking part. It is thought to be the largest Toy Run in the world. The celebrations are in true South African style with music and braais (barbeques) abounding and everyone is welcomed with open arms, as long as they bring a toy.
It began with teddy bears, but now the focus is on giving educational toys and ball games. The toys are distributed by various NGO’s throughout South Africa.
The ethos behind the Toy Run worldwide has not only been to enrich the lives of children over the Christmas period but also to eradicate the ‘bad boy’ image which bikers have in many quarters. So, put on your reflective belt, strap your teddy on to your bike and enjoy making a difference.