Toy soldiers

Harley riders strap Barbies, action figures and other gifts to their bikes and deliver them to Skid Row kids.

December 13, 2010|By Bill Kisiuk,
  • A rider in Glendale on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle wears a Santa beard to start his ride to the Fred Jordan Mission in Los Angeles to be one of over 1,000 riders to donate toys to kids on skid row on Sunday.
A rider in Glendale on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle wears… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

Harley-Davidsons bearing Barbie dolls and stuffed animals idled Sunday morning in south Glendale at the starting point of the 23rd annual L.A. Toy Ride.

Event coordinator Richard Wagner said more than 1,000 riders would roar to the Fred Jordan Mission on L.A.'s Skid Row to hand out toys to homeless children.

"The toys the kids get today might be the only ones they get this year," Wagner said.

Many of the riders are the same ones who gathered at Harley-Davidson of Glendale last month for the Love Ride — a party on two wheels and fundraiser for children's charities — founded by shop owner Oliver Shokouh.

Alan and Margarethe Rucker of Shadow Hills are veterans of both rides. The Love Ride usually takes a winding path to a scenic destination, while the Toy Ride is a straight shot to Fifth Street downtown.

"This is fun, too," Margarethe Rucker said. "It's for the kids."


Kay Schotfeldt of San Gabriel had games of Monopoly, Sorry and Battleship strapped to the back of her raspberry-and-cream Harley-Davidson Ultra Glide.

She and her husband Mark, on a peaches-and-cream 2002 Heritage Softail, are veterans of toy rides in Covina and Ontario as well as Glendale.

"To me, this is what Christmas is about," Kay Schotfeldt said. She likes to bring the classic games to help connect kids to people of older generations, she said.

Organizers from Harley-Davison of Glendale and riders' rights group Abate Local #1 also filled two pickup trucks with toys, ranging from bicycles and soccer balls to paint-by-numbers sets and Transformers action figures.

Edna Clingerman of Burbank had Barbie dolls strapped on the back of her Harley, which sports pink wheel covers and a pink engine case, with Barbie figurines emerging from the sides.

"I'm doing it for the kids," Clingerman said just before she peeled onto San Fernando Road. "Just to see their faces."

Joe Emma of Sunland was sweating in his Santa suit, serving in the unseasonal heat as the Toy Ride's St. Nick for the 10th consecutive year. The leather- and denim-clad riders are "the biggest-hearted people when it comes to Christmas," he said.

Many had their pictures taken with Santa, and some told him what they wanted for Christmas.

"New Harleys," Emma said.

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