Alberni about to go ‘hog’ wild

Alberni resident Tom Wall is one of 1,000 motorcycle enthusiasts — 80 who are local — are expected to take part in the venerable run, which takes place on Sept. 17–18.

Port Alberni resident Tom Wall and his daughter Emma are preparing to ride in the 27th Annual Toy Run

The 27th annual Port Alberni Toy Run is days away and Alberni Valley resident Tom Wall can already feel the butterflies.

Wall is one of 1,000 motorcycle enthusiasts—80 who are local—are expected to take part in the venerable run, which takes place on Sept. 17–18.

The ride starts at 12 noon at Little Qualicum Falls.

Riders will make their way along Highway 4, past Cameron Lake, through Cathedral Grove  and into Port Alberni.

Once in the Valley, they’ll come down Johnston Road, turn onto Gertrude Street, travel to Harbour Quay where they’ll reverse direction, head to 10th Avenue  and head to Glenwood Centre, where they hope to arrive at 1 p.m.

The lanky 63-year-old former truck driver has lived in Alberni for 25 years. He got involved with the Toy Run 20 years ago at the behest of a friend and has been involved as rider and director ever since.

There were 200 motorcyclists who participated in Wall’s first run. “I thought that was a pretty good size run back then but we didn’t even fill one side of the parking lot at Cathedral Grove,” Wall said.

The run moved its start point to Little Qualicum Falls, and is now starting to outgrow that site as well, he said.

The run is a family affair for Wall. His wife Susan is a Toy Run member and his daughter Emma, 11, has ridden with Wall on the back of his bike for the last two years.

“She saw other kids riding with their dads and wanted to herself but couldn’t until a couple of years ago because she was too small,” Wall said.

Wall rides a Yamaha V Star Classic in the run but he owned several Harley Davidson bikes back in the day. “They all left me sitting on the side of the road,” he said.

If he could ride his dream bike in the run it would be a BMW, but the dream is a distant one. “If it could do 280 km/h then I would do it,” Wall said. “With my age and reflexes today I’d probably end up a hood ornament though.”

Wall has donated every year he’s ridden in the Toy Run; he always donates cash instead of toys. “Money helps get things for older children and I like that because they’re the ones who often get left out,” he said.

Enjoying a smooth ride during a nice time of year brings the riders out, but doing something nice for kids and taking in the much talked about Port Alberni hospitality are big draws as well, event chairman Lloyd Herzog said.

The pres has been involved in the Toy Run for since 1993, first as a bartender then in other capacities. He doesn’t own a bike though, and has never ridden in the run.

“Helping out with the Toy Run keeps me out of mischief and out of the bars,” he said.

Weather will be a determining factor in how many riders participate. Rain geared down the number of riders last year to 700, which was down from the previous year, Herzog said.

Kids are the driving force behind why riders come out for the two-day event. “A lot of us are at an age where we want to help kids,” Herzog said.

The ride is also a social occasion. “We visit one another for a day, go to the dance, visit some more, visit one last time at breakfast on Sunday before heading home,” he said.

The two-day event includes the ride, pig roast, dance and Sunday breakfast. It also includes a beer garden, bike games and kids games as well.

“Other toy runs you go from A to B, have a coffee and a doughnut after and that’s it,” Herzog said. “We’re the best little toy run in B.C.”

The Toy Run raised $30,000 in toys last year, but it also quietly made significant contributions as well.

It helped stock four different kids’ playgrounds; helped the elderly by donating wheelchairs and blankets; and it helped 4-H and Girl Guides as well.

One change this year is that the Arlington Hotel, which for 26 years was a contributor and defacto stopover for riders, closed earlier this year.

Instead, riders can pull up a stump at the Kingsway Hotel, which won the bid to host the riders.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Herzog said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Person extracted from vehicle accident in Cameron Lake

A person has been extracted today from a reported vehicle accident in… Continue reading

Learn about Port Alberni’s mayoral candidates with new film series

Alberni Valley filmmaker Dallas Dalziel discusses key issues with candidates

City of Port Alberni issues water quality alert for Kitsuksis Creek area

Kitsuksis Creek residents urged to use alternate drinking water source

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read