The traditional merry-making sounds of Christmas time — such as children’s laughter, sleigh bells and the trademark “Ho, ho, ho!” of Santa Claus — were drowned out by the roar of thousands of motorcycles passing through town on Saturday, as Kris Kringle came early to Pueblo – on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle – during the 40th annual Pueblo Bikers United Toy Run.
More than 1,000 bikes and countless bikers departed from South High School for the annual procession through town that collects toys for disadvantaged Pueblo kids whose parents may not be able to afford presents come Christmas Day.
“The toy run is all about the kids,” said PBU co-president Munchie Trujillo. “We donate toys to 16 agencies, because they’re the ones who know who need the toys. And that’s what it’s all about is making Christmas better for the kids who can’t afford things.”
Puebloans came out in large numbers and lined the streets of the run’s route through Pueblo from South to East High School, waving emphatically at the bikers and filming the procession on their phones.
The cost to participate was either a new, unwrapped toy or $ 1, all of which will eventually end up under the Christmas trees of Pueblo kids.
Numerous toys and cash donations were collected prior to the Run, but the day’s fundraising actually began early Saturday morning at the Star Bar, where a 7 a.m. pre-run breakfast was served for just $ 5 per patron, with all proceeds being donated to the cause.
Additional funds were collected through a multi-stop poker run that took place after the Run’s conclusion.
Next, the collection of toys, games, kids’ bikes, stuffed animals and other gifts will be picked up by representatives of the 16 social service and charity organizations that will distribute the gifts across town.
Many of the participating bikers were clearly feeling the holiday spirit on the four-decade anniversary of the run, such as 32-year-old Chris Sanchez, who went and bought a full Santa costume complete with fluffy white beard for this year’s event.
“I’ve got 3 kids of my own, so anything for the kids is what I do,” Sanchez said. “It’s my favorite thing of the year – anything for the kids.”
Sanchez, a member of a local motorcycle club, even got one of the club’s prospects to don a vibrant green and red elf costume to help fully embody the holiday spirit on the ride.
“I just think there’s enough bad stuff going on every day. A lot of people have hard lives so this is one thing people can look forward to, to help the kids,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what background you come from. Some of these guys are top-notch CEOs and some of us are just blue-collar workers, and this is a chance for all of us to get together in the same place for a bigger purpose.”