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35th Annual Toy Run going ahead this year

Masha Scheele

Bikers are still being welcomed to come ride in Hinton’s annual toy run this month.

What would have been an exciting 35th toy run for the Foothills Road Riders Association, will now be downscaled to just the ride and no barbeque or post-toy run events due to the pandemic restrictions.

Most importantly, the ride is still going ahead to collect toys and donations for the kids during Santa’s Anonymous, said Randy Fidler, one of the Foothills Road Riders Association founders.

“After talking to the Kinsmen, they were a bit concerned about having to cut back on their baskets and the support they give to people. We’re a big part of their annual plans for 35 years now,” Fidler said.

The fire trucks will be part of the ride again and Fidler wasn’t sure if anyone would be dressing up as Santa this year.

Last year’s ride was done under short notice, and with this year’s restrictions, it was put together under even shorter notice.

“It’s for the kids, plain and simple, it’s for the kids,” Fidler said.

Roughly 85 bikers attended the ride last year and they collected a trailer full of toys and $800 towards Santa’s Anonymous.

The Hinton Kin Club have provided Santa’s Anonymous to the community for 62 consecutive years and the Foothills Road Riders joined to help raise funds and collect donations 35 years ago.

Through Santa’s Anonymous, local families that have applied for the program receive Christmas hampers with toys for the kids and enough groceries for two weeks in December.

“I’m pretty confident we can put Santa’s Anonymous on this year. We had the summer off so we haven’t had a meeting, but obviously with COVID-19 we will have some adjustments,” said Bill McLaughlin, president of the Hinton Kinsmen.

The Kin Club receives sponsorship money for the program each year from companies and individuals.

They haven’t started the fundraising yet this year, but funds have been down the past few years.

“We’ve taken a small loss on Santa’s Anonymous. We are concerned this year with things being even worse that we might get less money in,” McLaughlin said.

He added that while the losses weren’t big, the group hasn’t broken even in the past three years in regards to Santa’s Anonymous.

“I’m sure there will be more demand and less donations, but hopefully not,” McLaughlin said of this year’s event.

Part of the campaign this year is making people aware that it takes money to put together the baskets of food and toys.

McLaughlin added that there are some ideas floating around but that decisions need to be made on how it will be organized this year.

The Kin Club has been asked to run the Toxic Roundup in the morning on Sept. 12, which will likely bring in some funds for Santa’s Anonymous.

The Toy Run itself will run similarly to last year’s event, other than the post-ride barbeque.

“After talking to the health inspectors, we thought it’s better just to do everything outdoors and don’t feed anybody and follow the rules as best as we can,” said Fidler.

Bikers will still gather in the parking lot of the Parks West mall in Hinton at 11 am, prior to the ride leaving at 1 pm. The same route will be followed as last year, which worked out well, Fidler added.

“[There are] rules like you have to be out of the same household to ride on the back of a motorcycle,” he said.

The Toy Run used to be followed by big events with live music and food, which hasn’t happened for many years now. Last year the crew hosted a small barbeque at green square.

“Last year we talked about getting the association back energized because it was down to just the toy run for quite a few years. We’re trying to make it a little more high profile with more events but covid shut all of that down,” Fidler said.

Despite the diminishing events, bikers from across the province continue to support the Hinton toy run every September.

“With the lack of a BBQ, I don’t know what kind of effect that will have. I hope they keep their eye on the point of getting donations for the kids,” Fidler commented.

The Foothills Road Riders Association is currently made up of roughly 30 members and they usually gain more at every toy run. 

This year, organizers won’t be asking anyone to sign up due to restrictions around physical distancing.

Join the toy run or come drop off donations to Santa’s Anonymous on Sept. 12 at the Parks West mall before 1 pm. More information will be released in the coming months on how to apply for Santa’s Anonymous.