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

Cherry Creek firefighters mourn former deputy chief

Brian Brick is the second Alberni Valley firefighter to die of work-related cancer in January

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

Intern gives Port Alberni’s museum artifacts an update

St. John’s man travelled more than 7,000 kms to assist with curatorial duties

BCHL: Bulldogs best Salmon Arm at home

Bulldogs face Powell River in Sunday matinee Jan. 20; puck drop is 2 p.m.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Vancouver Island senior dies after medical emergency and rollover crash

Incident happened Saturday in Nanaimo on Poplar Street

Most Read