‘Nothing like it’: Annual Toy Run to benefit local kids

Published 12:20 pm Monday, November 21, 2022

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More than 600 motorcycles are expected for 20th Annual Polk County Toy Run


FOOTHILLS – Like the sound of rolling thunder through the foothills, a familiar cast of elves will take to their “sleds” on Saturday to bring holiday cheer to area kids. More than 600 motorcycles are anticipated for the 20th Annual Polk County Toy Run. All proceeds from the event, including hundreds of new toys for low-income Polk County families, will go to four area agencies in the foothills to help ensure children celebrate the holidays this season.

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Registration will get underway at 11 a.m. at the Saluda Fire Department located at 199 Walnut St. in Saluda. Registration is $10, and the riders are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy as well. There will be door prizes for participants, a 50/50 drawing, and a barbeque lunch is being provided prior to the start of the ride. 


At 2 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will climb aboard a pickup truck donated by Stott’s Ford for the event and lead the procession of motorcycles down the Saluda Grade on NC Hwy. 176, through Tryon, Landrum, Green Creek, and Mill Spring, and into Columbus. The motorcycles usually arrive at the Polk County Courthouse around 3:30 p.m., according to Toy Run organizer Barry Gee.


Gee took over the reins of the Polk County Toy Run in 2005 and has enjoyed seeing the event grow year after year.


“The first year I was organizer, we had 175 bikes,” Gee said. “This year, we are hoping for 750 riders.”


The Polk County Toy Run benefits Steps to HOPE domestic and sexual violence shelter, Thermal Belt Outreach Christmas program, Polk County Department of Social Services, and the Polk County Sheriff Department’s “Shop with a Cop” program where officers donate their time to take kids holiday shopping. Representatives from each of the organizations will greet the riders at the Columbus Courthouse where hundreds of toys will be provided to the organizations. 


Local Dollar General stores also have Polk County Toy Run collection boxes available, and will continue to collect unwrapped toys through the holidays.


Gee said it’s exciting to see how many people along the route come out to cheer on the riders as they roll through the area.


“There’s nothing like it,” said Gee of seeing this many motorcycles rolling through the foothills. “It’s just a great event for a great cause. These riders really enjoy the Toy Run and look forward to it every year.”