Ho ho, hogs

CNJ Staff Photo: Liliana Castillo Daniel Platt of Clovis rides with a bag of toys on his bike Saturday during the Harley-Davidson Toy Drive. The toys were collected from Platt’s coworkers at Cummins Natural Gas Engines.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Mix holiday spirit, Santa hats and leather jackets, and you get the High Plains Harley-Davidson Annual Toy Run.

In its 11th year, the toy drive is at its largest yet. About 150 motorcycle enthusiasts gathered at the High Plains Harley-Davidson on Mabry Drive to donate more than 250 gifts for needy children in Curry and Roosevelt counties.

While waiting for their police-escorted drive to the American Legion Post No. 25 on West Seventh Street, the president and first lady of the American Legion Riders, Johnny and Lucy Harris, collected the gifts into a trailer of toys such as bikes, stuffed animals and footballs.
This is the first year the American Legion Riders are sponsoring the run, and Lucy Harris, first vice president of the club, was excited about the group’s new level of involvement and the number of riders, despite the wet roads and high winds.

“We are die-hard bikers,” Lucy Harris said. “And it’s a good cause. That’s why we’re out here.”

The group of secret Santas paraded to the American Legion for lunch, a raffle and DJ.

Mike Hamilton, the assistant director of the Clovis Harley Owners Group chapter, said the group liked to get together and have a good time but that’s not why they do it.

“The main reason we all do this is strictly for the kids,” Hamilton said. Hamilton, who is one of the veterans of the toy run, said they try to get many motorcycle clubs involved, even from out of town.

“We want to have one big (toy run) instead of several small ones,” he said. Clubs from Roswell and other surrounding cities were invited, but couldn’t attend because of the weather.

The toys and raffle funds will be donated to Children, Youth and Families Services.

Clovis resident Daniel Platt conveyed his feelings for the children who would be receiving the gifts, while his riding buddy, a tan teddy bear, sat in the chair next to him.

“They got the short end of the stick, with no one there to stand by them.” Platt said. “A little help from the community is a good thing.
“It’s all about the kids. There’s really no other way to say it.”