Vincent Gladstone of the Port Alberni Toy Run waves to the crowds during the annual Alberni District Fall Fair parade on Saturday. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Toy Run showcases Valley as most rider friendly community

In addition to fundraising more than $1.5 million for kids in need, the Toy Run spotlights Alberni

Hundreds of motorcycles will roar into the Alberni Valley on Saturday for the 33rd annual Port Alberni Toy Run, hauling plenty of toys with them for children in need.

Riders leave from Little Qualicum Falls on Sept. 16 at noon, travel westbound along Highway 4, past Cameron Lake and through Cathedral Grove into Port Alberni, loop around the Harbour Quay fountain and end at Glenwood Centre around 1 p.m. There will be a show ‘n’ shine, kids’ activities, and later on some adult-only activities at Glenwood Centre.

“The thing that always makes it so worthwhile for me, is to see all of the people coming out and lining the Toy Run route to cheer on the riders and hold up signs of thanks,” said Port Alberni Toy Run chairman David Wiwchar. “I’ve been to a lot of different toy runs and motorcycle events throughout North America and nowhere else does that happen. It’s so heart warming to see the support we get in Port Alberni.”

The Toy Run has raised more than $1.5 million for local children’s charities and are deeply supportive of many Port Alberni events and associations.

“There’s so many great reasons to be involved with Toy Run and certainly the fact that no children’s charity or family event in this town has not had our support,” Wiwchar said. “We spread our support throughout the Valley and the West Coast and we do an awful lot of good work. And we’ve made Port Alberni a motorcycle hot spot.”

After receiving the most votes, Port Alberni was named Canada’s most rider friendly community last year in an online contest sponsored by Community Futures Alberta.

“We are going to be hosting a woman who goes by the name Belt Drive Betty who has some TV shows and runs a magazine based out of Alberta,” Wiwchar said. “She’ll be here for Toy Run, taking pictures, video, interviewing people and putting it all together in articles and video pieces.”

The publicity will spotlight Port Alberni’s Toy Run and the town’s title as most rider friendly community.

Aside from the ride, there’s plenty more happening during Toy Run weekend, and not just for the riders, for kids too.

Family-friendly activities will take place on Saturday from 1 p.m. on at Glenwood Centre. In addition, there will be a Show N’ Shine, adult bike games, beer garden and pig roast.

On Saturday evening, the dance floor opens up at Glenwood Centre (no minors) with bands Big Daddy and Maloomba Boogie Band. Tickets for the dance are available only at Little Qualicum Falls in the morning for $25 each, which includes a Kiwanis breakfast on Sunday.

A poker run will take place on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. that this year will take riders to the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

“Coulson Aviation is allowing us to take riders out to the airport where they can see the C130s and 737s that are being equipped for firefighting,” Wiwchar said. “It’s more of an opportunity to tour our guests around the Valley.”

The Port Alberni Toy Run is the largest motorcycle event on Vancouver Island and one of the largest fundraisers in the Valley.

For more information on events and schedule, go online to portalbernitoyrun.ca.

karly.blats@albernivalleynews.com