A CONVOY of 4500 motorcycles carved its way from Stockton to Newcastle yesterday laden with toy and cash donations for The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal.
Participants from as far away as Queensland – many donning festive fashion – gathered at Griffith Park for the 34th annual Newcastle Bikers For Kids Toy Run.
They departed at 10am under NSW Police and Roads and Maritime Authority escort for the 25-kilometre journey to Newcastle Foreshore.
Event organiser John Young said there were 90 minutes between the arrival of the first and last bikes.
‘‘Most bikes had two passengers and there were a lot of mums and dads that brought their children with them this year,’’ he said.
‘‘There were bikers, housewives, business people, university students and young kids.
‘‘There was a contingent of 20 posties in full uniform, the scooter club, chook chasers, big bikes, sports bikes – everything from top line Harleys and BMWs right down to motor scooters.’’
Mr Young said there was more than $45,000 in cash donations collected through bucket brigades at the start and end of the ride and from larger corporate donors, including a $27,000 cheque from Port Waratah Coal Services.
There was also about $33,000 worth of toys attached to bikes, most purchased by the riders.
‘‘We always strap the fluffy toys to the front of the bike, because there’s nothing better than a biker with a big fluffy teddy bear or giraffe strapped to the front,’’ Mr Young said.
‘‘We strap the dolls and games to the saddlebags.
‘‘If we didn’t donate the toys, the Salvation Army would have to buy the toys.
‘‘The money we donate is for them to buy toys for older kids, from about the age of 11.’’
Mr Young will start organising the 2013 event next week.
The Newcastle Toy Run is the country’s biggest and oldest and raises more money than any other.