SANTAS ON WHEELS: Holiday spirit soars at 2023 Polk County Toy Run

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Over 60 bags of new toys, $22,500 donated at this year’s event

POLK COUNTY—Over 450 motorcyclists participated in the 21st annual Polk County Toy Run on Saturday, an annual ride through the area that collects toys and donations for local underserved children during the holiday season. Over 62 bags of toys and $22,500 were donated during this year’s event.

Director of the Polk County Toy Run Barry Gee stops for a quick photo with the Grinch at Saturday’s event (Photo courtesy of Polk County Toy Run)

The Toy Run, which takes place each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving, saw 463 riders riding motorcycles through Saluda, Tryon, Landrum, Green Creek, Mill Spring and Columbus, before ending their route at the Polk County Courthouse. Many bikes were festively decorated and some riders were wearing their holiday gear. There was even an appearance from Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Grinch.

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“This is a fantastic annual event and we had a great turnout this year,” said Barry Gee, the director of the Polk County Toy Run. “These toys will make so many local children very happy this Christmas.”

Over 463 motorcycles rode in this year’s event (Photo courtesy of Polk County Toy Run)

This year, motorcyclists gathered at Harmon Field, behind Tryon Arts and Crafts School, before beginning their joyride through the foothills. There were a total of 651 people on site, including 148 passengers and 40 volunteers who helped with the event. Each participant donated a new toy or paid the entry fee, with proceeds going to Outreach Ministry, Steps to HOPE, Polk DSS and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

“Everybody loved going up the mountain on the new route,” Gee said. “This year, with the new starting point, riders at the front of the group actually met other riders as they came back down 176.”

Participants also enjoyed a barbecue lunch and were able to enter special drawings. Crystal Lynn Quinn, the winner of a 50/50 drawing at the toy run, donated her winnings of $1,431 back to the kids, the organization announced on social media. An after-party for the event was also held at the Green River Tavern in Columbus, which featured a pizza buffet.  

“We are so thankful for everyone involved, especially Harmon Field for allowing us to use its facilities,” Gee said on Monday. “We would also like to thank all of the Polk County businesses that sponsored the 2023 Polk County Toy Run tee shirts. We still have shirts for sale at Polk County Sheriff’s Office for $15 each, long-sleeved shirts for $25 and hoodies for $35.”

Unwrapped toys and monetary donations are still being accepted at some area businesses, including many of the county’s Dollar Generals that feature drop-off boxes for new toys.

There were a total of 651 people on site, including 148 passengers and 40 volunteers who helped with the 2023 Polk County Toy Run (Photo by Steve Burney)