BIKER NEWS: A biker Christmas for children in need and the riders | Outlaws Bikers News

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BIKER NEWS: A biker Christmas for children in need and the riders

BIKER NEWS -- It's not right that some children go without gifts on Christmas, and local motorcycle riders do their best to make...



BIKER NEWS -- It's not right that some children go without gifts on Christmas, and local motorcycle riders do their best to make that pain extinct, Lonnie Hunsinger said.

He was one of thousands of motorcyclists, from Anderson and throughout the Upstate, who stood up for children Sunday by sitting down on motorcycle seats.

Stretching longer than a mile, the Jack Hurley Anderson Toy Parade bikers took their wheels for a spin Sunday afternoon through Anderson from the Watson Village Shopping Center to the Civic Center of Anderson. Strapped to the back of the bikes, in saddlebags or looped around bikers' shoulders were stuffed animals, toy cars, dolls, light sabers and thousands of other toys.

Each one destined to spend Christmas with a needy child.

"Every kids' got to have a Christmas," Hunsinger said.

He's a senior member of the Confederates Motorcycle Club, which has been presenting the annual toy parade in Anderson for 35 years. The parade gets truckloads of toys for children and is run with the help of the Independent Mail. The newspaper's annual Brighter Christmas Fund effort helps needy families pay electric and gas bills and buy toys for the holidays.

"It's good to see a family that may not be able to go out to one of the big stores, but we're able to help them," Hunsinger said. "It's what we do: Collect the toys so families can have a good Christmas for their kids."

It's also an early Christmas for the bikers, said Rick "Ponytail" Allison, another senior Confederates member.

"We enjoy doing this," he said. "We look forward to this every year. We get together, get to see all our old friends — I have some lifelong friends here — and we're giving someone a good Christmas. Someone who may not otherwise have had one."

The bikers begin lining up in the shopping center parking lot hours before the ride kicks off.

They lined up Sunday in at least 10 long rows spanning the length of the Watson Village Shopping Center parking lot in Anderson.

It's one of the biggest motorcycle gatherings in the state — all for a good cause.

Robert "Lil' Man" Fagg has been with the ride since the beginning. He said it is the oldest, and likely largest, motorcycle toy ride in the state.

Organizers estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 riders tuned out Sunday, and they estimated the event raised between $10,000 and $12,000 for the Brighter Christmas Fund.

The donated toys go to Anderson Cares and Shares, which distributes them to families.

The good cause and the good people go together, the people do such a good thing that it brings more people each year and everyone has such a good time they have to come back, said Carol Laire.

She and her husband, Pappy, gave warm hugs to dozens of people who crowded around them when they pulled into the lot.

She pointed at her friend, Rick James, who had just ridden a motorcycle for the first time in years because he was in a coma for several months following a gal bladder problem.

"He's a walking miracle," Carol Laire said.

Mark Addis handed out handshakes and back slaps to James and the Laires.

Addis has been to all the rides except the first one.

"It started in 1980; I didn't buy my Flathead until '81," he said. "There weren't nothing but 17 of us then. It's grown. It's just bunches of people coming out to give. And we come to visit each other. Some of us only see each other once a year. And we give back."

The toys stay in Anderson County, as Addis and the rest of the bikers tell people almost immediately.

It's very important that the toys help their community, Carol Laire said.

She rode Sunday on her husband's 1975 Harley Electra Glide shovelhead with a foosball set strapped to the back.

Her husband, who runs the Ancient Iron Motorcycle Shop, has worked on many of the bikes in the crowd.

Becky Thompson, who works at Timms Harley-Davidson, said she also recognizes many of the bikes that have come through the dealership, the oldest Harley dealer in the state.

She and her husband, Terry, rode on a 2015 Road Glide, their 25th Harley.

They stuffed toys in the saddlebags and Terry's leather-vested stuffed pig, littered with pins, sat guard on the back of the orange bike.

"It's all for the kids," Terry Thompson said.

When the ride begins, the Thompsons and thousands of their friends pull out, two by two, and thunder their way to the Civic Center, past crowds of people waving flags and taking photos of the bikers.

Once there, it's another homecoming for the regulars, who take their toys to some of the panel trucks, where volunteers from White Jones Hardware and Rent-A-Center in Anderson compete to see who can fill the truck first. It was a tie.

The White Jones crew said they hadn't seen any one toy that was dominating in popularity.

"We're just getting a lot," said a biker who went only by the name Talmedge.

Teddy bears were the overwhelming favorite toy a few dozen feet away, at the Rent-A-Center truck, said Vera Allman, who wore holiday antlers on her head.

The trucks became as stuffed as the bears, volunteers pushing the toys in while the doors slid shut.

One of the last people who added to the pile is a returning regular, Cathy Smith-Felker.

She hasn't been on the ride for the past two years, since she moved to Tennessee, but came back to Anderson on a 1200 Sportster for two days to join the ride.

Smith-Felker also wore her traditional elf costume, in bright green.

"We brought, oh lets see," she said, "a doll set, a race car, a teddy bear and some other things."

This article was first published on N/A
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