The 37th annual Port Alberni Toy Run will kick off Saturday, Sept. 18 “in a modified form,” says longtime Toy Run president David Wiwchar.
“We’re currently working very closely with the medical health office, VIHA and the liquor inspector to do everything we used to do but complying with the current regulations,” he said Friday.
In 2020 the Toy Run had a modified event with fewer participants and none of the extra activities like kids’ games, adult motorcycle games, show ‘n’ shine or dance. They held an outdoor toy drop-off and there was no organized ride into town.
This year riders will gather at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park as in past years, and depart at noon for Port Alberni. They will ride through town to Harbour Quay, around the fountain and up Argyle Street to 10th Avenue, turning left and heading to Glenwood Centre off of Roger Street. The toy drop will be inside Glenwood Centre with an entrance at one end and exit at the other. Masks will be mandatory for anyone going inside the hall.
“We’ll have popcorn and candy floss for kids but there won’t be the usual events for kids inside Glenwood Centre because of COVID-19 restrictions,” Wiwchar said.
The show ‘n’ shine returns, as do the adult games, vendors and beer garden, which will all be located outdoors.
Organizers are looking at moving the dance outdoors so they will still be able to hold it, with Lance Goddard’s stage trailer providing a place for the live bands and both food and liquor sales inside Glenwood Centre. “It would be considered a flow-through event,” Wiwchar said. “There’s still some outstanding questions that need to be answered.”
Maloomba Boogie Band and Big Daddy, both Port Alberni-based bands, will provide live entertainment. The Toy Run dance draws inquiries from bands across Vancouver Island “but because of the last 18 months we wanted to make sure our local musicians are the first to play.”
The Poker Run on Sunday morning will start at Glenwood Centre and feature raffles, prizes, a beer garden and live auction.
Wiwchar said the organizing committee has heard from quite a few riders that plan on coming, but they don’t have a clear idea how many riders will be here on Toy Run day. “There’s lots of enthusiasm but there’s lots of concerns about COVID too. I never really have any expectations because of so many variables like weather, etc. I hope for a good, safe year.”
There are still Toy Run fundraising teddy bears available for people who would like to support the ride. Bears are available at Buy-Low Foods, from Toy Run board members and at the event itself.
One group that has committed to participating in the ride is the Langley Harley Owners Group. Peter Chutskoff, Langley HOG assistant director said between 20 and 40 riders will make the trip from the Lower Mainland to deliver a cheque that is guaranteed to top the $2,000 donation they made in 2020.
“It’s the best toy run,” said Chutskoff, which is why the club comes over to support a Vancouver Island charity event. A few riders came to Port Alberni’s event 10 years ago and told everyone else how people line the streets and cheer on the motorcyclists, and that the event has many components.
“We feel welcomed by the town, in the hotel and restaurants. It’s three days of fun.”
The Langley riders come over Friday night and leave after Sunday’s poker run.
For up to date information, follow the Port Alberni Toy Run Facebook page.