'Tis the Season for Bike Rides for Toys - TribPapers

‘Tis the Season for Bike Rides for Toys

Gifts are displayed on the Courthouse steps in Hendersonville after the Henderson County Toy Run. Photo courtesy of Henderson County Toy Run.

Asheville – November is the month when motorcycle parades for Christmas toys seem to take place throughout this area. Coming up on Saturday, November 19th will be the 25th Henderson County Toy Run.  It starts at the Bill Moore Community Center in Fletcher. Hundreds of cyclists gather to get ready to ride down the highway, escorted by the police, to Hendersonville with their Christmas gifts attached. It is quite a sight to see, all for the kids. In town, to watch the parade go by, you can go to Main between 6th and 3rd. Registration is from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and the event begins at 1:30 p.m.The ride fee is either a toy valued at $20 or a $20 cash donation. The ride will benefit neglected and abused children in Henderson County. For more information, call Crystal Quinn at (828) 243-7279, Kimberly Carland at (828) 606-2989, or Sue Harris at (828) 674-5648.

Christmas toys for needy kids are displayed on the steps of the Henderson County courthouse for all to see. Photo courtesy of Henderson County Toy Run.
Christmas toys for needy kids are displayed on the steps of the Henderson County courthouse for all to see. Photo courtesy of Henderson County Toy Run.

The park always has a festive air, with all kinds of activities taking place. And bikers familiar with each other chatted and talked. Barbecue luncheons are available, as are door prizes, 50/50 drawings, and T-shirts available for purchase. In addition, toys have been collected by businesses throughout the area, including NAPA Auto Parts on Spartanburg Highway, Fitclub, B & D Liquidation and Selee Corporation for this event. Once the bikers have roared into Hendersonville, the gifts will all be displayed on the steps of the Henderson County Courthouse on Main Street passersbyrbys to  e.  The Christmas spirit is in full evidence. These toys are distributed by the Department of Social Services to benefit children in foster cre.

To see these bikers riding down the highway in a long line—one bike after another—with their gifts tied on can’t help but bring a smile to your face. It is such a generous and wonderful thing for these bikers to do—bring Christmas cheer to those in need.

The Haywood County Toy Run

Last Saturday, November 12th, in Canton, the 31st Annual Haywood County Toy Run took place. Cyclers brought an unwrapped toy or $10 per person. This run started in Canton and was joined by other riders from all over. A group met at the Ingles in West Asheville early in the morning Saturday to ride over together and join the Canton riders. Dicky King organized this year’s event. The Toy Run parade departed from Adams Street in Canton at noon and ended up at the Smoky Mountain Steel Horses in Waynesville. The toys are then parceled out by social service agencies in the county to help families in need. From last year’s run, $13,000 in cash was raised and largely targeted to help those hit by Tropical Storm Fred. The toys were distributed through the Haywood County school system and the county social services department.

The Smoky Mountain Toy Run

On November 5, the 42nd Smoky Mountain Toy Run took place. The parade started at the Kearfott Plant parking lot, located between Swannanoa and Black Mountain. Gates opened at 10:00 AM with food, music, commemorative t-shirts for sale, displays, and raffles. Clouds unfortunately gathered, and showers  and sprinkles took place. Nevertheless, the event took place, but with fewer participants. The police-escorted parade left at 1:20 PM, headed to Asheville. Hundreds of bikers rode their donated gifts to downtown Asheville despite the unfortunate weather. Under tents, many wearing rain gear, the gifts arrived in downtown Asheville. For those on the road, seeing the American flag with a stuffed furry bear next to it all riding down US 70 West on a number of motorbikes undoubtedly brought a huge smile to their faces. The parade then traveled to Tunnel Road, traveling single file through Beaucatcher Tunnel, and ended at City/County Plaza, where the toys were collected and placed on the steps under a tent in front of the stage.

All proceeds benefit Eblen Charities’ Saint Nicholas Project, which then distributes them to needy families in the area during the Christmas season. A family in need simply registers with the St. Nicolas/Ingles Store, and then the parents come by to pick out what toys they want for their children. Shopping hours start December 11 and run through December 23! Several years ago, the Smoky Mountain Harley Owners Group started purchasing bicycles—kids’ bikes for all ages—to donate and support the run. This year, they have donated over 100 bicycles to the Saint Nicholas Project. Once the event is over, the bicycles and toys are placed in a truck by Two Men and a Truck and transported to the Ingles Toy Store in the Westgate Shopping Center.

History of the Event

The Smoky Mountain Toy Run started in 1981. This year celebrates their 42nd year of helping kids and families in need and is the oldest Toy Run in North Carolina and one of the oldest on the East Coast.Requirements to ride: a toy worth $15 or a $15 donation per person. All brands of roadworthy motorcycles are welcome to participate! No preregistration is required if you just want to ride in the parade.

“For the first 15 years, the Toy Run operated through a loosely knit group of volunteers, all with the same mission in mind: “FOR THE KIDS.” In 1996, the Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Harley Owners Group made the commitment to become a primary sponsor and to begin the daunting task of helping organize, plan, and implement the former Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade. Together, the Toy Run founders, Gene Lummus and the Smoky Mountain HOG Chapter, presided over some of the largest Toy Run events Buncombe County has ever witnessed.

Through the years, the name of the Toy Run has evolved from its original name to the present, “Smoky Mountain Toy Run,” because of a copyright conflict with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Today, the Toy Run operates under a corporate charter, and all proceeds benefit Eblen Charities’ Saint Nicholas Project. “The officers of the corporation work throughout the year, hand in hand with individuals and organizations, to ensure the success of the event year after year.”


Toy collection boxes for the St. Nicholas Project have been set up throughout Buncombe County to receive either a monetary donation or new toys. Harley-Davidson of Asheville is ready to receive your gifts. There is still time to donate. With the economy forcing everyone to make tough decisions at Christmas this year, your donation will make sure the kids don’t get left out.