Thunder road took on a different meaning Sunday afternoon, when an estimated 500 motorcycles in the Tri-County Toy Run left American Legion Post No. 133 in Temple bound for Lampasas.
The run gathers toys and money donations for 20 charities serving 9,000 children in Bell, Lampasas and Coryell counties, said Post Commander John Potts.
“The American Legion has been doing this for 24 years,” he said. “Each rider has to bring a toy or a $10 donation to help those 9,000 kids.”
Other organizations also brought donations, he said, including Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3393 in Kempner and American Legion Post No. 573 in Harker Heights.
“We’re hoping we will leave here with a donation of at least $7,000,” he said.
There were 39 boxes of toys loaded onto a semitrailer at the post, he said, both the vehicle and its driver donated by a Bell County company. More than 70 bicycles were donated, he said, including 50 donated by Post No. 133.
About 25-30 motorcycle clubs joined the run, he said. Volunteers started registering bikers in the post parking lot at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., the post served a breakfast of burritos, doughnuts, coffee, orange juice and water.
“The city of Temple wouldn’t let us have it inside the building,” he said. “I would like to thank Tim Davis and the city of Temple for letting us have it in the parking lot. We were not sure we were going to do this this year because of the virus.”
Another difference this year, Potts said, was the participation of non-motorcycle clubs, the Corvette Club of Bell County, Bell County Jeep Club and a Dodge truck club.
Bruce Raymond of Temple, chairman of the run, leads it every year dressed as Santa Claus. Post No. 133 has been the primary host of the run for 24 years, he said, and the run itself is 28 years old.
“I have been the Santa for the last 18 years and chairman for the last five or six years,” he said.
“It’s an obligation, a commitment,” he said. “Everyone here is a volunteer. My payment is seeing a child receive something they didn’t anticipate. They didn’t know if they were going to have a Christmas or not.”
At about 1 p.m., he led the riders around behind the post building on his red Victory Cross County Tour motorcycle and headed west on Avenue M. Their route would take them to South 57th Street and then Interstate 35. They would pass through Killeen, Copperas Cove and Kempner, expecting to reach Lampasas by about 2:30 p.m.
“It’s a pretty day, Raymond said before he left. “I have a cutoff. I don’t ride below 38 degrees.”
One year, he said, maybe 2006, the run had so many riders that when he entered Copperas Cove the last motorcycle was just leaving the Temple post.