Ride To Give

December 17, 2013

All Posts, Features

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the first motorcycle toy run, jointly sponsored by the Modified Motorcycle Association and the San Fernando Valley charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. The run featured 200 hundred motorcycles, two truckloads of toys, a television star named Art Linkletter and very many policemen. The ride started in Griffith Park in Los Angeles and ended at City Hall eight miles away.

Then, as now, the police were appalled by the idea. The Los Angeles Times quoted the opinion of one El Lay cop who thought, “I suppose Hitler did some good things, too.”

A week after the first toy run The Skyway Riders and Travelers Motorcycle Clubs held their toy run in Bergen, New Jersey. The New York Times reported, “A number of residents here were terrified but the worst never came. There were no gang fights…or the assorted other crimes depicted on television.”

Toy drives have been popular in the United States since the 1890s. The Police Athletic League began annual toy drives during the Great Depression and the Marine Corps began its annual Toys For Tots campaign in Los Angeles in 1947. But the idea of motorcycle outlaws, or at least a bunch of guys who looked and thought like outlaws, gathering toys and riding them to a central distribution point was an idea that was clearly overdue. The next year there were motorcycle toy runs all over the United States.

The Way We Were

This was a very different America in December 1973. Nixon, who gave the world the War on Drugs and RICO had just resigned and gone into exile at his estate in San Clemente. Sonny Barger was in exile in a cage in San Quentin. It was only four years after Mick Jagger’s “Christmas and Chanukah Rite for American Youth” at the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco – a well intentioned but half-assed act of holiday charity that wound up being a public relations disaster for every hippie on a Harley.

In 1973, the Hells Angels in particular had become concerned about their club’s image. If the Angels didn’t know what “public relations” meant before Altamont they quickly learned. That year the Angels were at the forefront of something called the “Bikers’ Rights Movement.” After the toy run, the Angels sponsored a holiday blood drive. Seventy-three was probably the year some wag coined the phrase “When I do right nobody remembers, when I do wrong nobody forgets.” A sort of biker political action committee called A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments, or ABATE, was founded in 1973.

Some police had a knee jerk reaction against this new phenomenon of hippie, delinquent, psycho-baby-killer bikers acting like good citizens. The Los Angeles cop who compared the participants in the first toy run to Hitler probably couldn’t help himself.

That original run lasted four years. In its final year it had 5,000 participants and instead of riding to Los Angeles City Hall they all rode the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was cancelled on the recommendation of Pasadena Police Chief Robert H. McGowan who called participants “an out-of-town bunch of ruffians who come into the city to cleanse their consciences once a year.” He accused Pasadena of “courting very serious criminal problems if it continues to permit this mob to bring toys to our children.” And as an example of those problems he cited one of the tens of thousands of spectators who held up a large sign near the Rose Bowl that read, “Show me your tits.”

“About one in every four females did just that,” the old cop complained.

The Way We Are

Now virtually every Harley rider in the world rides to give at least once a year. The runs start in late October in the Northern Rockies and they continue through December.

In Los Angeles, the Valley Angels had their run December first and the Mongols made their annual pilgrimage to the Fred Jordan Mission on Skid Row a week later.

The Big Texas Toy Run Motorcycle Parade was last Saturday in Fort Worth, a week after a major snow storm. Eight thousand riders showed up. The event started in 1985 and one of the original participants, Gene Long, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “In the old days, it was 95 percent Harleys. Today there are a lot of three-wheelers, as many as one-fifth of the rides. And there are a lot of women riders.”

The Solo Angeles CM, a club Jay Dobyns took pains to excoriate in his best selling, true crime memoir, sponsored its annual Tijuana Toy Run last weekend, too. A dude named Diablo told the Latin American Herald Tribune, “At times there are no words. You’re giving a child something he’s going to play with, and seeing his happy face is a great satisfaction.”

The same paper reported that a woman named Maria Santos waited in line with her six-year-old son for the bikes to roll in from the border. “It’s a very perfect event,” she said, “and we’re always grateful that they take the time to come and give happiness to my son and other children.”

There were big runs in Tulsa and Little Rock last weekend.

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said of the participants he saw, “They’re big-hearted. A lot of them are big barrel-chested, too, but they’re big-hearted, and they really care about kids that don’t otherwise have a chance. It’s pretty neat to see it; I’m grateful to all of them, and I told all of them we appreciate them – all of Arkansas appreciates them,”

Tulsa ABATE sponsored the run there. ABATE now means something less confrontational than it did in ’73. A guy named Larry Angell startled a reporter for the local NBC television station when he rode up with a bicycle strapped to his motorcycle. It will be less startling the thousandth time the reporter sees it. “I always carry a bicycle or a tricycle,” Angell explained. “I always have and not too many places to carry it on here, so I had to get creative.”

Reporters love to cover motorcycle toy runs. They have become a December news staple.

The Way They Still Are

Cops are less thrilled. Most police still dismiss toy runs as a cynical public relations ploy by organized criminal gangs and the ignorant red neck morons who are easily duped by them. An article by outlaw biker gang expert Richard Valdemar two years ago in Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine presents the responsible opposing view.

“The Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang goes to great effort to present itself as a motorcycle club rather than a criminal gang,” the biker authority tells his fellow cops. “They employ high-dollar attorneys and public relations fronts to deceive the national media and public into believing that they’re just good old boys who ride motorcycles as a hobby and don’t mean to hurt anyone.”

“Hollywood celebrities such as Hulk Hogan and Sylvester Stallone, as well as people who should know better such as former U.S. Senator from Colorado Ben Nighthorse Campbell, have been photographed riding with the Hells Angels and supporting these public relations campaigns,” Valdemar continues. “Either these people are fools who have been badly deceived, or somehow they benefit from this criminal association with the Hells Angels organization.”

“This is well documented in books such as Hells Angels (sic) by Hunter S. Thompson, Angels of Death by Julian Sher and William Marsden, No Angel by Jay Dobyns, and my favorite title Hells Angels: Three Can Keep a Secret If Two Are Dead by Yves Lavigne.”

Valdemar makes a noteworthy point that everyone reading this should remember. Not only will your participation in the next available toy run make a kid with a tough life smile and also make you feel all warm and gooey. That part’s okay. You do not have to admit this to anyone. But also, for the frosting on the cake, you will also piss off the police. You can tell guys that’s why you do it.

The photo above is from Glenn Moore.



71 Responses to “Ride To Give”

  1. ap Says:

    When we do good nobody remembers when we do bad nobody forgets. Keep it up, bikers donate more then politicians.

  2. jj solari Says:

    Merry Christmas to all who post here and to the host here. God bless us every one. Oh, and fuck everyone in DC. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

  3. sled tramp Says:

    Merry whatever you celebrate day to all operators in Special Warfare,all M.C. members who had the heart to take up the challenge to become patch holders,all animals waiting for a home,anyone working on a day they’d kill to spend with their families,the guy sitting in the rain on the side of the road whose life fell apart wondering if he’ll survive and the rest of the real world out there fighting with everything they’ve got for another day.

  4. Cap'n Bill Says:

    Happy Holidaze from the J O B! I hope everyone has a dandy day… and NIGHT!

  5. Tooj Says:

    Geezus, everybody picks on Hitler any old time they feel like it. I think any act of kindness is still valuable and I don’t fucking care who performed it.

    Typical of a cop to profile a philanthropist.

  6. H. Callahan Says:

    I’ve been in Law Enforcement for 30 years and I think toy runs are great no matter who is sponsoring them. Whether it’s a 1% club or the Sons of God MC, it really doesn’t matter; it’s for a good cause.

    I was with the NYPD for 21 years and I guess we had better things to do than harass 1%s, maybe they had special units for that, I don’t know. Being a street cop I could care less about 1%s, as long as they don’t cause me any grief. If I see a 1% riding through my zone I don’t focus on them and I don’t look for ways to harass them. I speak for myself but I’m sure many cops feel the same way. It’s just a job; I come to work, do my time, go home and hang my gun belt in the closet. Just trying to pay for the roof over my head and put food on the table and send my kids to college, etc. I can say that most of the cops I’ve worked with share that mentality. Not all cops are alike though and there are those that will look for any reason to take someone to jail. Yes there are cops that are assholes and those are the ones that give us all a bad name.

  7. Austin Says:

    @YYZ Skinhead -re: ” and sites like Rebel’s ” ahhh… like No Other Site Ever – LOL

    @sled tramp – Thanks and Happy Boxing Day from “real world out there fighting” category.

    @Rebel – “But also, for the frosting on the cake, you will also piss off the police. You can tell guys that’s why you do it.” …But I’m trying to keep my guilty pleasure a secret!

  8. Jim666 Says:

    @ H. Callahan

    you might be rite but you are far and few in between.

  9. Road Whore Says:

    @ H. Callahan

    Boy are you the far and few in between, as Jim666 says! I’ve been a “law abiding citizen” most of my life, except for some serious scrapes with the law when I was a teenager. That was expunged, nothing since then. Biker for life but not a patch holder. So squeaky clean not even a speeding ticket on the books as of late. Point being, I pretty much represent the stereotype of the “average, hard-working American citizen.” (Patch Holders do too, BTW.)

    Anyway, every single encounter I’ve had with LE has been with rude, arrogant, classless fucking jerks who had all the people skills of a rabid badger. There are far too many of this type of cop out there, and way too few of you.

    Cops nowadays especially view all citizens as the Other: someone to be suspected, feared, and usually…abused, if not physically at least verbally and emotionally.

    Every friggin’ cop I’ve encountered can be summed up with me stopping, politely greeting the officer, asking how he is, and being met with a stare and stony silence. Well FUCK YOU, asshole! And then in a rude fucking voice that you wouldn’t speak to a dog with demanding my license and registration and walking off. Never a response to “why was I pulled over Officer?” This is the interaction whether I had my family with me or not. Strange thing…never have been pulled over on my bike for some odd reason. And then during the interaction the cop’s attitude goes downhill from there.

    In upstate NY we had the FBI come in and take over an entire town’s police force because the cops were stopping young women for no reason and then sexually harassaing them, asking the for their phone numbers, asking them out on dates, implying the desire for sexual favors, etc.

    My dislike and disrespect for cops started at a young age. My dad owned a bar which had a small, suspicious fire. As a family we went there and met police officers. One called my dad aside and we could overhear enough to know what was going on, which dad confirmed to us: the cop told my dad that if a certain amount of money was paid monthly they could guarantee that such a thing would never happen again.

    My dad told the pigs to go fuck themselves. Shortly after that a uniformed officer showed up at our house and told my mother, who was an avid gardener and so squeaky clean she disgusted everyone, that she had to pull up the poppies in her garden because “someone could use them to make opium.” I remember standing there as a young boy not even in my teens and telling this worthless cop that my mother wasn’t some kind of drug dealer. He made her pull the poppies up while he stood and watched.

    I had a friend who grew up in Chicago…at the time it was just common knowledge that if the cops pulled you over it was for no good cause and they were just rousting you…he told me that virtually everyone, his father included, kept a ten or twenty with their license so that when they gave the cop their license the money was handed over too, and of course they were sent on their way.

    Cops commit horrendous shit that the rest of us would be locked away for and most times don’t even get a slap on the rest. Not conjecture: read the papers, peruse You Tube, etc. Such as the recent case where the cop literally ran down a couple on a motorcycle and suffered no consequences. Are you kiddin’ me?

    When I was a teenager it was truthfully and well known that a certain pair of cops were selling dope right from their patrol car. If you signaled for them to stop you, or just pulled them over somehow, you could make the transaction right then and there.

    And on and on and on.

    These are just a few of the reasons that people dislike, hate, disrespect, and fear cops.

    And there are more than just a few bad apples spoiling the barrel.

    Ride Free to those deserving.

  10. Phuquehed Says:

    @H. Callahan – You say it’s “just a job” and how you’re one of the few who are good? You’re no good if you don’t do anything about any of the *bad* pigs! You fuckers expect society to look up to you and give you automatic respect and yet treat *everyone* who isn’t a pig as ‘the enemy’. If you aren’t fucking up the ‘bad’ pigs, you’re no better than they are…worse, actually, since you keep trying to say you’re one of ‘the good ones’ and watch the ‘bad’ ones keep being bad and do nothing just to keep a fucking job.

  11. Stevo Says:

    In my experience two kinds of people become cops. Those with a genuine desire to improve society and those who desire power over other people. The former maybe make up 5%. The average cop has a job for life as long as he keeps his nose clean but is corrupted anyway by the power trip-and then some go one step further Like the John Ciccones of the world, the pure scum. For starters these motherfuckers seem to have no mandate so need to justify their own existence. So they fabricate crimes. The small town sheriff gets re-elected if no crime is committed…he’s doin his job right! But the Unnecessary and irrelevant Ciccone has to make bad guys up so he can heroically entrap them. Is there anywhere else on Earth where the likes of the poison dwarf would be on $200k a year? Holy Jesus! I recently re-read the book No Angel by another lunatic narcissist, Jay Dobyns. All I got from it was that there is no controls on these evil bastards. They are paid a fortune to run around, unchecked, framing people, taking drugs, breaking the law and no-one cares. Crazy. And you cops wonder why we don’t like you or trust you when that freak was made cop of the year?

  12. Glenn S. Says:

    Oh look. It’s Officer Friendly. Just here to help and protect you and me.

    But, at his very best, Officer Friendly’s primary purpose, his mission in life, is to put his fellow men in cages. He does so whenever someone breaks a rule that they call a “law”. Somehow, he expects everybody in the world to know about, respect, and obey every single one of those rules, and believes that those who don’t are deserving of the draconian punishments that the system dreams up whenever the politicians want to distract from the fact that they’re incapable of solving real problems. And, like members of the SS Totenkopf Division (assigned to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany), he thinks calling it a job makes it right. Oh, occasionally he might cage a baby raper or some nutcase that might deserve it, but most of the time its just some regular man or woman trying to get by. And that is when Officer Friendly is at his best.

    When he’s more typical, he picks and chooses which of the laws to enforce and which to ignore. And he picks who gets to ignore the same laws he cages others for breaking. For the most part, he acts as if the laws known as “rights” are mere inconveniences, and that he alone is capable of deciding which rights are bestowed on which of his targets and when. And when he breaks a hundred laws to enforce the more petty ones, he pats himself on the back for a job well done. If called upon to investigate the common workaday American, his job is to determine guilt, if called upon to investigate one of his own, his job is to determine innocence. Rarely will he deviate from that.

    If he picks and chooses the what and the who skillfully, if he is aggressive on the right occasions and passive when encountering the right people, he is promoted. If he applies common sense to his job, he is kept at low rank or shown the door.

    At his worst, he’s a mediocre predator, victimizing others under color of law, secure in the knowledge that he will have to be reallly stupid of fuck with the wrong person before facing consequences.

    Save that shit for the schoolchildren and the willfully ignorant sheep, H. Callahan. If you want a job, try something productive and positive.

  13. Base Says:

    H. Callahan

    If you are still reading here check this out. Watch the entire video. Then answer the question.


  14. Sieg Says:

    Glenn S, a very minor correction to keep some relatives from being slandered.

    The 3rd SS Panzer Division was known as the Totenkopf Division. They had absolutely nothing to do with the German penal system that had been in place for years before the Second War of White Destruction started, i.e.; the KZ, or as we know them, the “concentration camps”. Sounds so much more sinister than “assembly camp”, doesn’t it?!

    The SS-Totenkopfverbände were the ones charged with guarding the camps. They were not popular kids on the block, and a trooper in the SS, which was, after all, an elite formation, would have no more in common with them than would a Green Beanie have in common with a hack at Cook County Jail.

    An endnote to those who will, indubitably post about how awful they all were…the SF in this country were initially staffed with NCO’s from the SS, and received most of their initial training and doctrine from them.

    Just aayin.


  15. jrnr Says:

    Holeeee shit…am i dreaming or did we just get visited by the great Dirty Harry Callahan. This must be my lucky day. Or could it possibly get better and it’s really Clint himself?? You are my very favorite actor and The Outlaw Josey Wales is a great movie! Or are you just jerking us around and you’re really a fucking piece of shit cop coming on here with your bullshit about how good you are? What a bunch of shit. Maybe years ago there might have been some cops that actually gave a shit about citizens. But not anymore. You fucks think you’re the only “good guys” and regular people are always guilty of something and hopefully have enough money to prove their innocence. We citizens pay your fucking salaries. Maybe that’s something you fucktards should get back to remembering! Now run back over to the fedex website with your tracking number and check when your iron order mail order cut is due to arrive, officer dickstick.

    Respects to those that deserve it,


  16. Tooj Says:

    WUT? Did I get under Dirty Harry’s skin? I’ll say it again. Typical of a cop to compare a philanthropist to Hitler.

  17. slycechyx Says:

    I love going on charity rides. Always checking ride calendars to see what’s up. I’ve been on HA toy rides, always have had a good time.
    Don’t care if it is 30 degrees or 120, I’ll ride for a good cause anytime. I’ll ride with anyone at anytime.

  18. Paladin Says:


    If you’re ever in the L.A. area and are so inclined, drop me a line. You can get my contact info from Rebel.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  19. slycechyx Says:

    Thanks for the invite, Paladin. The closest I’ve ridden in your area is San Diego. If old age doesn’t get me first, I hope to ride the Pacific Coast hgwy as far as it goes. If the opportunity comes up, I sure will give you a yell. That’s my bucket list ride.

    I would also like to invite all of you to ride with me any time in AZ. My chapter has a huge charity ride during AZ bike week, actually now has been changed to Phoenix Bikefest. Just look for the granny on a blue Sporty in my avitar pic.

  20. Mag Says:

    @Paladin – “I find it rather ironic that the liberals are so willing to embrace Islamists. The liberals will be the first ones put to the sword when the Islamists come to power.”

    But in the meantime, they think they are at a sufficiently safe distance to disguise how enamored they are with the idea of gratuitous, capricious and tyrannical decapitative dominance by felicitating the imaginary attributes they find it convenient to propound. Religion of peace, my ass.

    “Democrats seem to be under the delusion that the true meaning of the Koran is Liberalislam, and that being stoned in the town square amounts to twisting up a chubby. Both of the foregoing will prove to be fatal errors.”

    Some people are smart enough to realize that all attempts at empire end up with lined up human beings kneeling naked in the mud at the edge of a freshly dug pit. Very few of those smart enough, are liberals.

    The liberals that are, usually are the ones that already plan on doing the barking of orders and the management of mass killing plans.

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