30 years ago, a group of motorcycle enthusiast from a group called ABATE, started a toy run. A toy run is where a group brings toys to a location and drops them off. In this particular case, toys were brought to the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia.(CHOP) The bikes would ride to CHOP and drop off the toys and meet and mingle with the children. It was a glorious affair. It grew every year, and with it always being around various dates in November the bikers had to fend through rain, snow and cold on occasion.(There were some glorious 60 to 70 degree days also) Because of the success, and it's continued growth the city mayors strongly supported the parade and accepted the Sunday traffic inconvenience for the good of the sick, and sometime dieing kids. Most politicians running for office were always walking the parade line surfing for votes. A huge success for everyone.
Now let's jump ahead to lately. 2 to 3 years ago the ABATE group was notified by the city of Philly that they would have to PAY for the traffic inconvenience of supplying toys to kids. The parade had grown and the time of the inconvenience, according to the city, was taking to long. 10,000 to 20,000 bikes laden with toys took over 2 hours to complete the run. The city insisted on being paid for the parade to pay overtime for the cops involved. (No proof of need just demand for payment, there had NEVER been an incident, ABATE provided all traffic control and had not requested police involvement) The fee/levy/tax on the Toy Run became $30,000 dollars. The money was raised on year 28, 29 and 30. Much of the money raised was from the area businesses that benefited from 10,000 + bikers coming into the city. RIP Joey Vento who started off every year with a $5000.00 gift.
Then it happened. CHOP decided that they no longer could handle and store the 40,000 NEW presents that were being delivered. Did you read that? 10 to 20K riders, 40,000 NEW toys. Now the place being given all this for free couldn't handle it anymore. Add to that increasing the "police protection" fees and the "worlds longest" running Toy Run was canceled after 30 years.
Now the news has gotten out, ABC and NBC Philly did stories on the end of the Toy Run, and the phones and E mails have not stopped ringing/pinging. Congressman Brady, of Philly, wants to help "lower the fees"! Many area groups that received some of the over flow of those toys are screaming bloody murder. "Give us the toys, we love the Toy Run!" The head of ABATE was attempting to do something with only 10 days to go. But the rules of ABATE have to be followed. He can't get a membership vote by November 6th. So it ends!!
I ran my first Toy Run in 1982 on a Yamaha 175 Enduro I owned. I was not geared up for winter riding and remember freezing my tail off. I was instantly warmed by the smiles and astonished looks of the children as we brought toys to them. I had my toys in a back pack and another strapped to the rear seat, such as it was, on that tiny bike. Back then we walked into the building, and got to meet with the kids. Time changed and we were told to drop our toys in bins and the hospital brought out a few kids. Then we were pretty much banned from the building, except for the lobby, where dignitaries made speeches and had photos taken. The last 10 years I have volunteered as a Road Guard and road my Harley the last 6 years.
Why do I write all this today?? 2 reasons. 1 is that I will miss making this run each year, and I can easily jump into another one. The 2nd reason is a bit deeper. It seems to me that for 28 years an event runs smoothly and places a positive spotlight on bikers, and then, with government fees and increased demands, it is all over in a quick 2-3 years.
Occupy Philly has the Mayor bending over kissing their butt (400 people NOT spending money)to make their stay comfortable, and it's been a month. The bikers brought 10 to 20K people and most spent money eating or parking or other stuff in the city, we get license fees, police fees and governmental red tape. WTF is wrong with this picture?
Read this for how I come up with with these rants
Maybe if we told the Philly mayor we were protesting "something" he would pay us back the $60K spent by one organization ABATE of Delaware County. For the record and disclosure, I am a member of ABATE of Delaware County. http://www.delawarevalleyabate.org/