Toy Run to have usual route and police escort

11/04/2010 12:00 AM

11/04/2010 5:47 AM

Wichita police will escort motorcyclists on their annual Toy Run route up Broadway, Mayor Carl Brewer said Wednesday.

That's a reversal of a controversial decision city officials made earlier this week.

The city had approved a parade permit for the annual charity event set for Sunday. But the city had said it wouldn't provide street closures and police escorts as it has for years along the Toy Run route between Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and the Kansas Coliseum. It said it didn't have the authority to block ramps leading to state roads along the Toy Run's new route.

The Toy Run changed its route this year to avoid a bridge closure on Broadway.

Brewer said he and other council members met with Kansas Department of Transportation officials to open a currently closed bridge on Broadway and provide escorts that will allow the bikers to cruise through intersections whether there are red lights or not.

"We decided that we're going to support this effort this year and start working earlier on it next year," he said.

The city is urging bikers to ride cautiously, especially in a construction area at 21st Street and Broadway.

The ride's main purpose is for bikers to take Christmas donations from their starting point at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to the Kansas Coliseum.

The donations help the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and the Kansas Food Bank. The event started 30 years ago with about 30 riders. It has grown steadily to about 3,300 riders last year.

Kurt Oswald, owner of Roll Easy magazine, said he hopes people will watch the bikers and donate toys as they have in past years.

He credited Brewer for finding a solution.

"He has not given up," he said. "He has been tenacious and relentless on this thing."

He also credited motorcyclists who helped advocate for a change and spread the word.

"The whole biker community really made this work," he said. "I'm just elated."

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