A record-breaking number of motorcycles and enthusiasts roared through Decatur and Bridgeport Sunday for the 14th Annual Wise County Toy Run. According to Ed Beckley, an event organizer, 2,136 motorcycles and almost 3,000 people turned out for the bike ride that collects toys for children in need.
To participate, riders must donate a new, unwrapped toy or $10.
This year’s number shattered last year’s total of 2,000 participants, which was the largest in the event’s history. So many riders turned out for the event, which begins in the parking lot of Decatur’s McCarroll Middle School track, that organizers had to open up an adjacent parking lot.
“We’d never had to do that before,” Beckley said.
He added that the procession was so long that whenever the first riders entered Bridgeport, the last of the riders were still in Decatur.
“They just kept coming and coming,” he said. “And we had no less than 5,000 people lined up all along the route between Decatur and Bridgeport on the sides of the road standing, waving and honking.”
The ride ended at Harwood Park in Bridgeport, where more than 200 gallons of “Willie’s Famous Chili” were served and a trailer was packed with donated toys.
“Our whole plan is to make sure that kids have a good Christmas,” Beckley said. “No kid should not get a toy for Christmas, no matter what. We’ve got plenty of them to make sure that doesn’t happen … We’re Texas people. We take care of our own and ride for the kids.”
Applications for assistance from the Toy Run are available at P&H Muffler and Supply Co. in Bridgeport and Bridgeport Automotive. They are due Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Beckley said this year’s ride was dedicated to longtime organizer, “Wild Bill” Reed of Chico, who was unable to attend this year due to health reasons.
“He ran his legs off for this thing,” Beckley said. “We sure do miss him.”
Organizers will meet in two weeks to start planning next year’s event, which will be held Sunday, Dec. 7.
“Every year, we try to make it a little different, a little more fun,” he said. “That’s the ticket. We don’t want it to get old and boring. We want to make it bigger and bigger on the map.”
For more information about the Wise County Toy Run, visit the group’s Facebook page by searching WiseCounty ToyRun at www.facebook.com.