Story & Photos by Pete Alva
If it hasn’t been already said, then I will say it now and repeat it throughout my life:
It is my foremost opinion that the Harley-Davidson and custom motorcycle riding culture is by far the most caring and thoughtful of all the social groups in America and beyond, that unselfishly goes beyond their capacity to help others in immediate need on an extremely consistent basis throughout every year.
One of the finest and most prime examples is the tireless work of Oliver Shokouh and Company over at his own Southern California Dealership, Glendale Harley-Davidson/Buell, where his employees and volunteers who just weeks after completing the astronomical task of producing the Love Ride in Pomona California in late October, here and now in December turn around and volunteer for another mighty endeavor of the L.A. Toy Ride, also known as the Annual Skid Row Ride, now in it’s 21st year.
This ride had many Santa’s helpers too, where many small to progressively larger motorcycle clubs, groups and individuals got together to organize ride stops, such as Joe and Lisa Scott from Southgate who start the ride to Glendale from their own home, with nearly 100 riders who are accommodated by their neighbors to park in their driveways. I wasn’t there but this must have been quite a sight, especially when you consider the volume of engine rumblings that got everyone else out of bed that morning, and culminated in the afternoon for an after-party hosted by the Scott’s at their home. Sounds like they got some cool neighbors!
I must confess that in my eleven years of motorcycle event journalism this was my very first large Toy Run event, where I started off early in the morning at Krispy Kreme’s in Gardena, hanging out with my good friends in the Bikers For Christ South Bay Chapter, and ride organizers Rick and Rose Kupke of Torrance who graciously paid for everyone’s delicious donuts for this group of about 60, which has grown steadily in the 11 years of this ride start led by Rick and Rose.
Upon arrival at Glendale Harley-Davidson/Buell we were greeted by Santa and Oliver who were lining up their bikes next to the city’s Glendale Fire Department truck. The City of Glendale were major champs again here today, contributing their police, traffic and fire department services for this ride, just like they do for the Love Ride. Anyone who was hungry could get themselves a good pancake breakfast made by the Golden State H.O.G. group, who did much appreciated work on the ride organizing. This toy ride, sponsored by ABATE Local #1 showed tremendous camaraderie, especially between bike clubs, from the Vagos, the Nuggets, the Bikers For Christ, the Ironworkers, the Aztecs, and the Boozefighters 101 Chapter, the Amigos and the Uglys, all who showed up in good numbers to ride, deliver and hand out the best of toys ranging from stuffed animals, electronic gadgets, and of course bicycles galore to train the future riders of America. Boozefighters Robert Patrick and Max Martini, stars of The Unit on CBS, were also there in force to terminate toylessness here at the Fred Jordan Mission site here in Skid Row, where the ride culminated for the toy giveaway. The Fred Jordan Mission has helped the underprivileged in society since 1944, feeding the hungry, and providing clothing and shelter for the ones who had a turn in life that was seemingly a dead end, all for the ultimate cause, which will always be hope, for hope is a very moving force.
Actor Paul Renteria of (Anger Managment and Miller Beer commercials) was also present to present presents in the presence of some really cool kids who were mostly from East L.A., where Paul was born.
I must say that in light of what has been happening with the economy and the endless news of jobs being lost, it was great to see every one of these volunteers casting a positive note to the masses, for much of the media news covered this event. I must stress how humbling it is to see something like this particular event. If you have not been to this ride ever it is very much the sight to see, for there are literally kids lined up for many blocks to receive toys due to the generosity of these riders who get up early and donate their day to just see these kids smile, whereas for some there may not be as many smiles in life that you or I possess, and this ride leaves you with the greatest feeling to participate in it and witness. Later on in life I am sure that the kids will also remember the dedication of their parents that morning to stand in the cold to tough it out in the longest of lines and spend this quality time with their kids, for even though their parents may not have it in the bank at this moment, this was surely priceless.