Santa Claus rides a Harley-Davidson — a Shovelhead with a cherry-red paint job, to be exact.
Before readying his sleigh for Christmas later this month, St. Nick will be behind the bars of his chopper Saturday during the annual Montrose Motorcycle Holiday Toy Run. The event, a Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Employees Club creation, will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the company’s south parking lot at 2200 S. Rio Grande Ave., where motorcyclists will gather. The ride to Olathe’s Haven House, a transitional housing facility for the homeless, begins at 11 a.m. After arriving at Haven House at 11:30 a.m., there will be a party for the bikers hosted by Haven House children as they’ll present bikers with handmade Christmas ornaments.
Participants are encouraged to bring a toy, cash donation, winter clothing or blankets, according to event organizer Mike Bahr. A Tri-State employee, Bahr came up with the toy run idea a year ago, after attending similar events when he lived in Denver. (There’s also an annual motorcycle toy run in Grand Junction.)
“It’s just a blast to see those kids’ faces when Santa rides up on a Harley,” he said. “It’s pretty special.”
During the inaugural Montrose run, Bahr said they were able to fill two Haven House rooms with “hundreds” of items.
“It went really well. The donations were incredible,” he said. “The kids just had a fabulous Christmas.”
He admits he got a late start on organizing everything last year, but he thanked the company’s Employees Club for lending its support.
“They just stepped up and really helped us out,” he said. “It came together really quickly and really well.”
The weather didn’t deter riders last year, either, as temperatures were in the 20s. As of presstime, it will be sunny and 51 degrees on Saturday, which is good riding weather, especially for this time of the year.
The Gold Wing Road Riders Association and local Christian Motorcycle Association chapter will be in attendance, Bahr said, but all bikers from all affiliations are welcome.
“Anybody who knows anything about the biker culture would understand that bikers are some of the most giving, most service-oriented people there are,” said Bahr, who rides a customized Harley Road King. “…When it comes to kids, it doesn’t matter what the background of that biker is, they step up and come to the table.”
Mac Fellin, Montrose transmission maintenance manager, shared a similar sentiment.
“The one thing I can say from my experience riding motorcycles is that the majority of people that ride are friendly, generous and helpful,” Fellin said.
He recalled the ride up to the Haven House last year as children took pleasure in the bikers honking their horns and revving up their engines.
“Bikers were overwhelmed seeing the joy that this event brought these kids,” Fellin said. “All realized that what they were doing was a very worthy cause. Without this effort the majority of these kids would not have had much of a Christmas.”
Plus, it’s not everyday you get to see Santa.
Bahr said there was one 3-year-old girl last year who couldn’t get enough of the old Kris Kringle.
“She would not let go of him,” he said. “It was pretty cool. (The event) is the highlight of my year.”
For more information about the run, visit tristate.coop/montroseholidaytoyrun.
The Haven House transitional and transformational living program was created in 2010 to help the homeless in Montrose, Ouray and Delta counties. For more information, visit the official website at havenhousehomeless.org.