Santa’s helpers ride motorcycles

Hema Easley

People on the streets waved and cheered as Santa Claus led more than 500 men and women on motorbikes carrying gifts of toys and food for poor families for this Christmas.

The biker’s parade on U.S. Highway 50 and State Route 89 on Saturday was part of an annual Toy Run by bikers who collect gifts and money for the needy and distribute it through Christmas Cheer, a nonprofit organization.

“We raised about $5,000 and about 500 toys, including skateboards, Barbie dolls and basketballs,” said Mary Luckel, coordinator for the Toy Run, who also works as a child support specialist with El Dorado County.

Dressed in their trademark black leather, the bikers met at Horizon Casino Resort Saturday morning, from where they were led by a fire truck and a biker dressed as Santa Claus. The parade honked its way to The Brother’s Place, a biker-friendly bar in South Lake Tahoe, where the journey culminated with a raffle, a barbecue and a performance by rock ‘n’ roll band Cool Black Kettle.

The money and gifts were then handed over to Christmas Cheer, which was started 21 years go by Nat and Bonita Sinclair and has been supporting needy families since that time. Luckel said that each year the support of local businesses and businesses from surrounding areas made it possible to have such a large turnout.

“This year, with all the layoffs, I’m sure there will be many more families that will benefit,” said Luckel.

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