GALLERY: Huge turnout for 26th annual West Kootenay Toy Run

Hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts left Castlegar Sunday on a day-long tour of the West Kootenays.

Catherine Foster and her co-pilot are all smiles before heading out on their first-ever West Kootenay Toy Run on Sunday

Catherine Foster and her co-pilot are all smiles before heading out on their first-ever West Kootenay Toy Run on Sunday

If the ground rumbled around your home in Castlegar on Sunday morning, it wasn’t an earthquake but the vibrations from hundreds of motorcycles taking part in the 26th annual West Kootenay Toy Run.

Starting around 8 a.m. at the Castlegar Community Complex, riders in droves began turning up to register and drop off toys for the now famous event. (For our earlier story detailing the route, click HERE.)

“I like the cause,” said first-time participant Catherine Foster, who had a big teddy bear riding shotgun on her bike. “We have our fingers crossed for good weather. It looks pretty good right now.”

Foster and her husband Mike, from Castlegar, had motorcycles quite different from one another and she said she would likely be more comfortable aboard her 2010 Harley Davidson Fat Boy than Mike would be on his custom-built, USA made chopper. “Mine has no shocks,” laughed Mike.

Inside, riders queued up to register and enjoy a pancake breakfast put on by the Castlegar Lions Club. A table set up for the toy donations was soon overflowing, something that impressed six-year-old Gareth Totten-Prime.

“I brought in two puzzles and a Hex Bug,” said Gareth, who was doing a great job in helping the adults sort and organize all of the toys. He and his dad Tim were taking part together for the first time, though dad also rode in the event last year.

As more and more riders arrived, West Kootenay Toy Run secretary Marla Doherty-Haynes commented on how large the event has become.

“We’re one of the only runs left in North America where the police have to help us shut down traffic,” she said. “I like that all of the money raised here, stays here, too.”

Doherty-Hanes said she hopes to be able to organize some activities for children at next year’s event, so even more kids turn out.

Also among the leather-clad crowd was former Toy Run executive member Don Lukenbill and his girlfriend Deb Borsato. Lukenbill had an impressive series of lapel pins showing his years of participation, dating back to 2001.

“Sometimes everybody thinks of bikers as all bad, but every one of us is here for the kids,” said Lukenbill.

After a little good-natured ribbing over the horsepower and mechanical differences between his Harley and his girlfriends Honda, the pair made their way inside juggling handfuls of teddy bears.

The event wraps up back in Castlegar with a dinner, live music and, of course, the raffle which includes a grand prize of a 2013 Super Glide Custom 110th Anniversary Edition and a second prize of a (new, retro-model) ‘48 Sportster.

The Castlegar News will provide an update on final participant numbers and how much was raised as soon as we can.

UPDATE Sept. 9: Congratulations to Glen Gustafson (Trail) and Danielle Gilbert (Rossland) who took home the big prizes of a 2013 Harley-Davidson SuperGlide Custom and a 2013 Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight.