Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like the roar of a hundred hot rods and motorcycles racing down the freeway.
Every year, on the first Saturday in December, motorcyclists converge on Naval Air Station Lemoore to take part in the annual Toys for Tots car and motorcycle toy run.
This year’s run will begin this Saturday, Dec. 6, with registration at the NAS Lemoore media parking lot at 8:30 a.m. Attendees should each bring a new, unwrapped toy valued at more than $10. These gifts will be loaded into Humvees in preparation for when the convoy rolls out at 9:45 a.m.
The procession winds its way from the base, through Lemoore and finally into Hanford, with a law enforcement escort guiding them the entire way.
It culminates at A & D: Auto and Cycle in Hanford, with a free barbecue lunch for the participants and a drawing featuring prizes donated by Kings County businesses.
“We’ve had 155 motorcycles on a good year,” said retired Navy Petty Officer Glenn Davis, who organized this year’s event. “It’s always a great turnout.”
The run isn’t limited to just motorcycles. Car clubs and hot rods are welcome to join in the procession.
“It doesn’t matter what you drive, really,” Davis said. “We let anyone in who wants to participate.”
Last year, the run and other Toys for Tots drives across the county collected more than 25,000 toys, according to Staff Sgt. Juan Gajardo.
The motorcycle run has been an annual tradition for 11 years now. It was started by Lt. Jeff Green, an orthopedic surgeon on the base who wanted to get a motorcycle group together for charity. He decided to have it benefit Toys for Tots, and the rest is history.
“When he moved out of the area, he asked my wife and I to keep it going in his absence,” said Davis, who has coordinated the run for the last six years. “We’re going to keep doing it as long as we can, as long as there are people who want to participate. But I always think it’s worth it, even if we only get 50 toys. That means 50 kids will get a present that year.”
For Davis, one of the best parts is the outpouring of support from the community. People on the route come out every year to wave at them as they pass, knowing their ride is for a good cause.
“I think this is a great event. It’s free and open to everyone. You come out, have some fun and support Kings County children in the process,” Davis said. “What’s not to like?”
Toys for Tots is a national program which collects toys and gifts for needy children who live in low-income families, have been abused or neglected, or are currently in foster care.
The program was founded in December 1947 by a Marine reserve major who was looking for an organization to deliver presents to less fortunate children on Christmas Day, but found none. Since then, the program has collected and distributed more than 492 million toys.