Bikers take over the streets of Tulsa, thousands of riders armed with toys took part in the annual ABATE Toy Run. Organizers say the event, which started more than two decades ago, has continued to get bigger every year.
News on 6 reporter Chris Wright says an estimated 6,000 participants showed up for this year's run.
When people think of bikers, charity might not be the first thing that pops into their minds. But the riders who crowded Riverside Drive for the ABATE Toy Run hope the event is slowly changing that perception.
"Motorcycle riders have always had big hearts, and this just proves it. We're always willing to help people out who are a little less fortunate than what we are," biker Paul Brinker said.
The ABATE Toy Run started 27 years ago with only 20 motorcycle participants. It has become an annual gathering for bikers from all over the country, with an estimated 6,000 showing up this year.
"Each year they want to get their bike dressed up, show the Christmas spirit, we say Santa Claus rides a Harley," event coordinator Tommy Harrold said.
Santa in fact was on a Harley Sunday. Local biker Roger Holtquist, who has played the role for several years, led the pilgrimage from Riverside Drive to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds.
"My beard unfortunately turned white, so I was a good candidate," Holtquist said.
And with Santa leading the way, the riders took over the streets of Tulsa. With so many bikers taking part in this event, it is expected to take all of them an hour and a half just to get from the start over on Riverside Drive to the Expo Center.
After arriving, the bikers dropped off their toys, all of which will be given to the Marine Toys for Tots program.
And for one day, at least, they didn't look so tough.
"We are all heartfelt, we are all family people, no matter what we have on our back or what leathers we're wearing. We love Christmas and we want to support the children," Harrold said.
Bikers donated more than 35,000 toys during last year's run, and organizers hope to collect even more this year.