The gathering of polished chrome and metal was an impressive sight as upwards of 1,500 motorcycle riders and their bikes gathered at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park before the toy run began at noon Saturday.
“It’s probably about my 12th toy run. I do it for the kids and it’s fun,” said Deborah Graham from Victoria.
The Port Alberni Toy Run has raised roughly $2 million in its 38 years of existence and nearly as much in donated toys.
“I come back and meet all the friends I haven’t seen in years and yeah it’s a good time,” said rider Glen Potter.
It’s the biggest charity drive in the Alberni Valley providing Christmas toys for kids and funding for events all year long.
It’s also the biggest motorcycle ride on the Island and a “can’t miss” event for everyone.
“So many beautiful bikes, we’ve got the classic bikes of the 1940s, Indians here and right up to the new hot rod bomber bikes,” said Port Alberni Toy Run Chair David Wiwchar. “You get to see the latest models people have and talk to them about their experiences and yeah, bikers love bikes.”
And when the bikes fired up and began to roll they took over Highway 4 from the park, all the way to Port Alberni.
“It’s a big rush, like when everyone fires up their bikes and get going it’s a really big rush to know that everyone is here for the same thing,” said fourth-year rider Kevin Gower.
“You feel like the Candy Man. It’s beautiful. It’s such a warm feeling in your heart,” added Lisa Dusome who came from Langley for the ride.
Bike enthusiasts and supporters lined the route to see the spectacle as the bikers wound their way along Highway 4 past Cameron Lake, through Cathedral Grove, over “the Hump” and down into Port Alberni.
“That’s what really separates the Port Alberni Toy Run from every toy run I’ve ever been in is the city comes out and supports the riders and they cheer the riders on and they hold up signs saying ‘thank you’ because they know what the Port Alberni Toy Run brings to the community,” added Wiwchar.