Ready to ride for toy run

Members of the Western Slope Harley Owners Group, shown ringing bells for The Salvation Army this past weekend, will have their 31st annual Toy Run for needy children Saturday. Pictured are, from left, Ada Fisher, David Weaver, Paul Miller and Kirk Fisher.

Plan to line up along 12th Street or head to the Lincoln Park Barn on Saturday afternoon if you relish the sight of hundreds of Harley-Davidson motorcycles rumbling by.

Riders on the 31st annual Toy Run for the Western Slope Harley Owners Group will start at Grand Junction’s Harley-Davidson store, 2747 Crossroad Blvd., leaving about noon, and will end at the Eagles Lodge on Orchard Mesa.

The group of about 800 riders will stop at the Lincoln Park Barn near the corner of Gunnison Avenue and 12th Avenue to drop off toys for The Salvation Army. The local Aktion Club this year will spend about $1,000 on toys to donate to the toy run.

Toy Run organizer Kristy Hale said she wants riders to be aware of changes to the event this year.

Riders will receive an escort by police to the Lincoln Park Barn, but riders will travel from there on their own.

“It probably requires a few extra bodies. On the other hand, it will probably go quicker,” Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper said of the route, which is different from last year and will not get the full escort that was provided in previous years.

With growing numbers of motorcycle riders and a tighter city budget, City Council members said they were hesitant about allowing the riders through main intersections during times of high Christmas shopping traffic on a Saturday. Traffic in intersections can be stalled for as long as 30 minutes as bikers travel through.

But Hale said she hopes the donations of children’s toys will be worth the delays and that the riders will continue to thrill those who traditionally line the sidewalks for the event. Each rider brings at least one toy, which significantly bumps up local toy stocks.

“I would think we would want as many people as we could get,” Hale said about riders. “They’re missing the intent. The more people out there, the more toys are donated.”

Hale said the city last year waived all of the police overtime costs of $1,600. The year before, the Harley group was asked to pay half of the police costs, or $800, she said. Costs for this year’s police presence haven’t yet been calculated, according to the Grand Junction Police Department.

Sponsors such as CC Enterprises pay for some traffic-control services with in-kind donations. Any money left over from other sponsors after paying for liability insurance goes to purchase more toys, Hale said.

City Council member Gregg Palmer said it wasn’t so much the overtime costs, but the timing of the event and snarling traffic on a busy shopping day, that concerned him.

“What council said to those people was, ‘We’d like to help out how best we can, but we can’t tie up all the police personnel,’ ” Palmer said. “It wasn’t so much a monetary issue as manpower issue.”


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