VALDOSTA — In just a few weeks, a long-standing Lowndes County Christmas tradition is coming back with a vengeance.
On December 18, the 29th annual Toy Ride, sponsored by the Outback Riders motorcycle club, will send hundreds of roaring bikers down the road from Lake Park to Valdosta as Santa’s helpers, bringing toys to children in need for low vacuum. Funds.
This year, the ride returns to its traditional starting point in the Roger Budd Lake Park Exit 5 Outlet Mall (formerly Lake Park Plaza). The ride ends at the Five Points Mall.
Riders wishing to take part in the ride can pre-register for free the day before, December 17, at Mikki’s Bar on Northside Drive. The entry prize: an unboxed toy, said Rick Folsom, one of the ride’s organizers.
He said up to 2,000 runners could show up, assuming the weather is good.
“We usually average around 1,500,” he said.
Anyone who wants to donate toys can bring them to Five Points, Folsom said.
“If they want to take them to Lake Park (at the start of the race) they can, but we have limited capacity to transport the toys to Five Points,” he said.
All toys collected will be donated to the local Salvation Army for distribution to South Georgia families in need as part of the Empty Stocking Fund, sponsored by the Salvation Army, Guardian Bank and Valdosta Daily Times.
Toy collection boxes have been placed at businesses across the city, he said. The boxes will contain flyers for the Outback Riders and should not be confused with the Marine Corps’ “Toys for Tots” campaign boxes, Folsom said.
In addition to door prizes, a “50-50” draw will take place; tickets are sold for $1, and one lucky winner will receive half the proceeds, with the other half paying expenses for the ride next year, he said.
The blessing of the bikes is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, December 18, departing at 1:30 p.m. More information: Call (229) 460-2521 or (229) 561-7125.
Terry Richards is a senior reporter at the Valdosta Daily Times.