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Santas Toy Run benefits local children
Ride set for Saturday
W 2010 Toy Run 037
The 13th Annual Santa's Toy Run is set for this Saturday. The event, which is hosted by the Southern Thunder Cruisers Motorcycle Club, will help distribute toys to needy children for Christmas. - photo by Special to the Herald

Santa Claus will take a ride through downtown Statesboro Saturday, Nov. 21, escorted by a host of motorcycle riders with a mission: to make sure children in need have a merry Christmas.

The 13th Annual Santa's Toy Run, hosted by the Southern Thunder Cruisers motorcycle club, is an effort to ensure area children aren't disappointed by an empty stocking due to family financial challenges, said Curtis Gay, president of the group. The Bulloch County Sheriff's Office is also helping with the ride.

Since the effort began on a local level in 2002, motorcyclists have come together "to help Santa Claus fill his bag with toys for the children who may otherwise not find much under the tree," Gay said.

Riders from all over the region participate in the effort. If a group of riders from one particular area donates toys or monetary gifts, those donations are sent to the county from which those riders are. Local donations are sent to the Bulloch County Department of Family and Children Services, to be distributed to families in need, Gay said.

Riders bring a new unwrapped toy valued at around $10, or offer donations of money, he said. Those who do not ride motorcycles or don't wish to participate in the ride may donate at the ride registration or afterward, when Santa will visit with children at the stopping point, he said.

Riders will meet at Ogeechee Technical College for sign-in and staging at 10 a.m. Saturday, where they will drop off the donated items or funds, Gay said. While other people are welcome to drop off donations at that point and time, the real fun will be when Santa joins the ride and parades through downtown before greeting children at the Statesboro Flea Market and Paintball Center, he said.

At the registration site, the Christian Motorcyclists Association Redeemed Riders will serve hot coffee to riders before they pull out at 11:30 a.m. to start the ride.

The event involves a "very scenic police-escorted ride through Bulloch County," with the highlights being at Veteran's Memorial Parkway and Highway 301 South, where "the Jolly Old Elf" (also known as Santa) will join the riders in a motorcycle sleigh around noon or shortly thereafter, he said.

Then, Gay said he hopes to see the streets lined with families and their children, cheering Santa as he rides, escorted by riders, up South Main Street through downtown Statesboro, across Highway 80 to the Statesboro Flea Market.

Santa will arrive at the final point around 12:30 p.m., where he will visit with children while participating riders enjoy lunch, door prizes "and the satisfaction of knowing you helped a needy child have a merry Christmas," Gay said.

The annual event began in 2002 when Gay was president of the Statesboro Goldwing Motorcycle Club. The motorcycle sleigh used to transport Santa was built by Gay in 1988 and was used for 10 years to bring Santa to the Statesboro Mall each year.

Last year, local riders provided around $4,500 in toys and monetary donations to help provide Statesboro and Bulloch County area children with toys from Santa on Christmas morning. Response to this year's efforts promise an even larger return this year, he said.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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