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‘Big Bird’s’ Toy Run aids Christmas Cheer
A rainy day could not stop Big Bird’s Toy Run from going on as scheduled on Saturday. However, many of the participants brought cars instead of motorcycles because of the rain. The run, shown here heading north on U.S. 220 and led by area police, raised money and collected toys for Christmas Cheer, the annual effort to help the needy at the holidays. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Saturday’s cold rain did not deter a large group of motorcyclists and others from helping needy area families have a merry Christmas.
A total of 432 toys were collected during Ricky “Big Bird” Holcomb’s 21st annual Toy Run, a ride through the community to benefit Christmas Cheer, according to Pam Allen, executive director of the organization.
Compared to last year’s event, more toys seemed to be collected on Saturday, and they seemed to be of better quality, Allen said.
Saturday night, she did not yet know how much money had been raised. Several fundraising activities related to the Toy Run were continuing.
Money collected will go toward buying more toys and food for the needy.
“People have been generous, as they always are,” said Paige Holcomb, wife of “Big Bird” Holcomb.
She recognizes there is a lot of need in the community due to economic troubles.
“It’s just a tough time around here,” she said. “Everybody’s hurting” to a degree.
The Toy Run left Big Bird’s Big Twins on U.S. 220 South near Ridgeway at 1 p.m. and traveled north along U.S. 220 Business. It ended at Sportlanes.
Participants said this year’s route was shortened due to the rain.
About 100 vehicles were in the procession, down from an average of 300 to 350 in most years, according to Allen and Paige Holcomb.
Most participants rode in cars and trucks. However, a few motorcycles led the convoy.
“For a rainy day, it went really good,” “Big Bird” Holcomb said.
But “the weather certainly put a damper on us,” his wife added.
Organizers had known rain was in the forecast for Saturday.
Still, “people’s schedules are busy,” Allen said, so they decided to proceed with the Toy Run despite the rain “so as not to complicate things.”
Christmas Cheer plans to help about 825 families this year, Allen said. Each family will receive a box of food and a blanket.
Families with children also will receive toys. Allen estimated that a little more than 500 children live in households that will receive Christmas Cheer assistance.
Efforts are made to give each child six or seven toys, Allen said, noting that gifts are age-appropriate.
“Big Bird” suffered a stroke in early 2010, according to reports. Since then, he has scaled back on motorcycle rides that he organized for local causes for years. He now focuses on the Toy Run.
“We appreciate his dedication” to helping Christmas Cheer make the holiday joyous for needy children and their families, Allen said.