Bicyclists, motorcyclists help raise over $31K at Toys 4 Tots Ride on the Emerald Coast
With the signature roar of motorcycle tailpipes, the 42nd annual Toys 4 Tots Ride on the Emerald Coast kicked off at 11 a.m. Sunday morning from the parking lots of Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson and Winn-Dixie on Beal Parkway.
This year’s event, organized by the Emerald Coast Harley Owners Group #3605, attracted 363 riders on 271 motorcycles.
Led by the white-bearded red-suited “Santa Carl,” motorcyclists rode south on Beal Parkway to Yacht Club Drive before turning north on Eglin Parkway. The parade of bikers, many in costume or riding decorated bikes, continued through Shalimar and north on State Road 85 to the Mullet Festival grounds in Niceville.
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The group got help navigating the 15.5-mile trip from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and the Niceville Police Department.
Dona Luttrell, president of the Emerald Coast Chapter of the Can-Am Spyder Ryding Club, participated in the ride with her husband, Harold, and two other riders on the three-wheeled motorcycles.
“We were really expecting it to be cold,” said Luttrell. “But the weather was beautiful.”
Luttrell rode her bike dressed as the Buc-ee’s store beaver mascot while her granddaughter sported a Grinch costume.
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Once they reached the fairgrounds, riders had a multitude of activities.
“We had bike games and bike decorating and costume contests, with prizes donated by Harley-Davidson,” said event coordinator Faith Parry. “We raffled off prizes donated by businesses in the community; we also had a bunch of food trucks that came out, and they donated back as well.”
In addition to collecting several hundred toys, the event also raised $31,659 for the two designated charities, Children in Crisis and the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center.
“It’s our only charity event and it’s one we take a lot of pride in,” said Parry. “We want to make sure the kids know that their community cares about them.”