31st Toy Run a howling success
11/08/2010 12:00 AM
08/05/2014 8:00 PM
For much of Sunday, the sound of motorcycles reverberated in downtown Wichita. People lined Broadway to cheer and wave in support of the Wichita Toy Run charity parade as more than 3,000 motorcycles growled from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and followed Broadway north to the Kansas Coliseum.
"There were so many people, it was phenomenal," said Terisa Olson, an assistant coordinator of the event. "Usually, we have a good turnout, but nothing like this year. For the entire length of Broadway, there wasn't any open area without spectators."
For 31 years, Kansas bikers have gathered toys and other holiday donations for the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots and the Kansas Food Bank.
It is the largest such biking event in Kansas, organizers said.
In recent weeks, there was some doubt over which route the charity parade would take due to bridge construction. An alternate route initially prompted the city to say it couldn't provide police escorts because it didn't have the right to shut down intersections with state roads.
But late last week, Kansas Department of Transportation officials approved temporarily opening the bridge for the motorcyclists. That allowed the police the authority to patrol the route to ensure
safety and traffic flow.
"We were running out of time," said Holly Potelle, one of the organizers of the event. "There are so many people involved in this and it is a word-of-mouth event. I knew we would have it. My concern was, how safe was it going to be?"
On Sunday, Potelle said she was thrilled with the turnout.
"We are dividing a mountain of toys," she said. "I think our loading trucks will be popping at the gills."
The parade went without incident, Potelle said. All riders arrived safely at the Coliseum.
For participants, such as Shadrack Clarke, the ride is all about helping children have a good holiday.
"It's the people and the bikes and the cause," Clarke said. "It lets everybody come together for a common goal, no matter what you are riding or where you are from."
Frank and Laura Nava have been participating for more than two decades.
"It is a good thing we do," Frank Nava said. "We give to kids who ain't going to get anything. And it's more fun when we do this all together."
"This here is like a family deal," Laura Nava said.
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