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A little early for Christmas?
The Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association (OMRA) doesn't think so.
Sunday morning 52 motorcycles set out from Penticton's Rotary Park, bound for Summerland. After Summerland, it was Oliver, then Okanagan Falls, then back home to Rotary.
On route they'd pick up toy and cash donations, which they'd supplement in a big way with toys and cash from their own riders. The more toys and cash the better, because in the end it was all turned over to the St. Vincent De Paul Christmas Hamper Program.
Put it all together and you have the 2023 South Okanagan Toy Run -- the 36th annual version of the venerable event.
"We had 52 bikes and raised $2,923 today," said organizer Geoff Gawne after it was all over. "And more than 40 toys. And the weather was good. So it was a great day.
"We even had some folks from West Kelowna brave the highway (which is single lane after late August's rock slide) join us. And a couple from Germany who just heard about it and showed up."
And for a photographer, well, there's nothing quite like four dozen-plus bikes rolling down the highway in tight two-by-two formation. It's positively thrilling.
All was not perfect, however. John "Red" Young, who for years was the Toy Run's organizer and its Santa, passed away in early August. He'll be memorialized with an OMRA ride in the spring.
What's more, despite the success of Sunday's event, the OMRA inner circle would love to see an influx of new riders.
"Today was organized by six people and we'd love more support," said Gawne. "We need people to come out and get involved. We have a board of directors and it’s time for some of them to retire."
According to Gawne, OMRA benefits are many. Members are insured during group runs. There's a "downed rider fund," where anyone who takes a tumble while riding is eligible for a $500 helping hand. And of course there's the chance to give back through events like the Toy Run.
"A lot of it comes down to community," he said. "With motorcycles, you like to ride with someone. It's about meeting people and connecting -- the motorcycle community connecting."
Dues are $20 per person per year or $30 for a couple. Anyone interested can attend the next OMRA meeting at 7 pm, Tuesday, Oct. 3, upstairs at the Penticton Eagles Club, 1197 Main St.
Alternately, they can reach out to Geoff Gawne at email@example.com or 250-488-2237.