Who would have ever thought that a small town like Port Alberni could hold such a large event as the Toy Run has become.
Many years have passed and we would like to thank past Toy Run members, all merchants who donated to the cause and most of all, to all the riders who came out rain or shine or snow to participate and made it the success it has become (for if not for them the Toy Run would not have come into existence in the valley).
In the pages to follow, you can scroll back through time from the present to the very first Toy Run of Port Alberni.
It all began when a few people got together one day and decided that if other motorcyclists can make kids happy, why don't we do the same. So, with the help of some of our local merchants and the support from the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) and the Salvation Army, it all came together to become the amazing annual event it is now.
We had good weather, with 1,100 bikes and many vendors showing up to a very successful weekend. It is worth noting that the Port Alberni Toy Run is now the largest Toy Run event in British Columbia.
Once again the Toy Run drew participants from near and far, but numbers were slightly down this time due to similar events scheduled for the same weekend. More than 200 motorcycles took part and they couldn't have asked for better weather.
The ride began where riders met - in MacMillan Bloedel's Scenic Cathedral Grove. The old growth forest region flanks either side of Hi-way #4 in central Vancouver Island and provides a breathtaking start to the 15 minute ride into Port Alberni. While organizing for the mass start, participants were treated to hot chocolate, coffee and freshly baked goodies by the members of the Black Powder Club.
Alberni District MLA Gerard Janssen, dressed as Santa, led the pack out of the grove and over the long hill call "The Hump" by locals of the Alberni Valley. Upon arriving in town, riders were greeted by people all along their route who waved, clapped and cheered them on. The R.C.M.P. did an excellent job of escorting and controlling traffic.
The bikes paraded through town to the Harbour Quay where a very large crowd had gathered to watch the procession wind around the stone fountain and snake back up the road and over to the event's new destination - the Athletic Hall.
Hot dogs, chili, buns, coffee and hot chocolate were served at the hall to all who attended. Presentations were made by the community's often called Master of Ceremonies "Mike Carter" (he is not the same Mr. Carter from near by Parksville's Old Dog's Hawgs).
The beer gardens opened for those who were still thirsty or had just had enough coffee. Inside the hall, the "Merry Andrew Marionettes" entertained the kids and the young at heart all day long with their elaborate puppet shows.
The terrain turned out to be a little too rough for the bike games but that will be remedied for next year. There were plenty of door prizes handed out, all donated by local merchants who have enabled the annual Toy Run to continue through their spontaneous and generous contributions. After a short break, preparations for the evening's entertainment began. Vancouver based band "Incognito" played excellent tunes to a full house that really knew how to party. The tradition for trouble-free Toy Run celebration in Port Alberni held true again this year. The committee and local law enforcers and the citizens of the Alberni Valley were shown once again what a great bunch of people we truly are.
The following morning, a hearty breakfast consisting of hot cakes, eggs and sausages cooked up by the Shriners. As only two bikes showed up for the poker run, both rode away with all the prizes.
- 300 toys plus $1600.00 in gift certificates and toys distributed by the Home Support Association
- $3,556.00 to the Home Support Association to purchase a special lift that enables workers to better care for bed-ridden and disabled patients and to acquire camping gear to take troubled children on outings
- $220.00 to Big Brothers & Sisters
- $100.00 to the Boy Scouts
- $1,500 to the Bread Of Life
- $500.00 to the Salvation Army Christmas Relief Program
- $500.00 to the Marry Andrew Marionettes
Saturday morning was bright and clear as over 300 bikes and riders gathered at Cathedral Grove for the 7th Annual Port Alberni Toy Run. The Black Powder Club was on hand (as they have in the past) with hot coffee and cake and cookies for all.
Mayor Gillian Trumper officially opened the days events and Santa Claus (MLA Gerard Janssen was taking time out from his vacation) to present the toys to Lt. Metcalf of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army distribute the toys that we received from the bikers and non-bikers alike to the needy kids at Christmas time.
The bike games for the adults went off on schedule and the kids' afternoon was filled with fun and laughter in a carnival atmosphere.
Sunday morning the Shriners were serving their usual tasty sausage and pancake breakfast. After breakfast the poker run got underway for a relaxing ride out to Taylor Flats and back to town ending at the Arlington Hotel.
- 450 toys to the Salvation Army
- $5,000.00 to the Outreach Therapy Program
- $500.00 to the Katy Crosby Fund (Save-A-Life Foundation)
- $240.00 to the Rollin Art Center
- $200.00 to the Big Brothers & Sisters
- $50.00 to the Parksville Toy Run.
Like every other year the rain fell like clockwork, with the exception that it followed us into town instead of falling directly upon us. There was some hundred plus bikes and riders who participated in the run with very few getting involved with the bike games due to the weather.
"Rude Mood" supplied good rock'n'roll tunes for over 200 riders and local townspeople.
- 350 toys to the Salvation Army
- $4,000.00 to the W.C.G.H. children's ward which we bought a T.V., V.C.R. plus movies, books and a whole lot of toys
- $300.00 to the Special Olympics
- $75.00 to Big Brothers & Big Sisters
- $75.00 to the Parksville Toy Run
- $50.00 to the Variety Club Telethon
Due to the double booking of the Kin Hut, we had to look elsewhere to hold our event. With full cooperation by Peter Hudson, manager of the Greenwood Hotel, we were able to pull off the event without a hitch. But like all other toy Runs, it rained and we had to cancel the bike games. The kids games were brought indoors where the Clown College, with their inquisitive talents entertained the children with games, face painting and balloon sculpturing.
Presentations were made and pictures were taken with a special appearance by Gerard Janssen (our local MLA), which wasn't the first time he has joined us in our cause for needy children.
This year our music was done by the popular sounds of "No Secrets". The dance floor was packed with every song played, with the band receiving great reviews.
- 400 toys to the Salvation Army
- $2,175.00 to the Port Alberni Women's Resources Transition House to be used at Christmas time.
Due to certain circumstances the Jaycees disbanded and we be came independent and now call ourselves the P. A. Toy Run.
Although the rain was with us, 140 riders gathered at Cathedral Grove for the annual run for needy children. Upon reaching the Kin Hut everyone was ready for the bike games and the kids were ready for their games. Concession tables were available with things to be bought and swapped. In the evening, the adults danced to music by "Maloomba Boogie Band". On Sunday morning, there was the traditional pancake breakfast and swap meet.
- 300 toys to the Salvation Army plus $1,525.88
- $25.00 to Big Brothers of Port Alberni.