Change Is Coming To Motorcyclist's Annual Charitable Toy Run

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When you've driven the same route for close to 30 years, change doesn't come easy. But street construction will force the thousands of motorcyclists who make up the annual Wichita Toy Run, to change their route.

It's a change to an annual event that has some crying bah-humbug. But police say change has to come.

When it gets right down to it, here's the reason for the changes to the Wichita Toy Run. Construction North Broadway is forcing the motorcyclists to deviate from the normal route they take from Lawrence Dumont Stadium to the Kansas Coliseum.

"The police department is not abandoning the Toy Run in any means," Captain Rusty Leeds of the Wichita Police Department says.

Wichita police say they will be out in force as usual at Lawrence Dumont to help with the staging and assist the charitable motorcyclists on their way. The biggest and most important difference is there will be no police escort this year.

In some ways the Toy Run might be a victim of its own success. What started in 1980 with about 30 bikers riding with new toys across town in a parade to donate to the Marines Toy's For Tots has become an enormous annual charitable event. Last year about 3,300 bikers participated to help the Salvation Army, marines' program, and other Christmas charities.

The parade can go on and on and on. Police say they've blocked some east and west streets for nearly two hours until the whole parade passed. The parade route also had police violating Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) rules when some interstate ramps were closed. Change, as difficult as it can be and as grumpy as it can make some folks, was in the wind.

"We looked at this and considered that this can still be done as a benefit run. You can still collect the donations and the toys and still be done in a safe way, but it was probably time to format it a little differently."

He says the riders will be released in groups rather than all at once. They're asked to ride north on Meridian to 53rd to the Coliseum and observe traffic laws.

"Change is hard for everybody."

Wichita police and Toy Run organizers hope the motorcyclists remember this one thing as they are leaving Lawrence Dumont Stadium on Sunday. It's not about whether they're all parading in one group. It's about the generosity and all the people they'll be helping with it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wichita Police today discussed changes to Sunday's Toy Run motorcycle ride which have drawn fire from some participants.

More than 3,000 riders are expected for the charity run, which collects toys for Toys for Tots. Due to construction, the route has been forced to change from Broadway to other streets. Because of Kansas Department of Transportation laws, some streets on the new route can not be closed. That means police can't provide complete traffic control for a parade. "The only change is rather than having a police escort in the north bound lanes the motorcyclists will have to proceed on their own and obey the traffic laws, stopping at red lights and obeying the laws of the road," said Wichita Police Captain Rusty Leedes.

Bikers will gather and stage at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium at 10:30. Police will release bikers in small groups beginning at 12:30. Police expect all riders to be on the road by 2:30 The bikers will ride up Meridian to 53rd Street North, then over to the Kansas Coliseum.

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