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For the week of October 4 through 10, 2000

Harleys, toys and a day of good cheer

Harleys everywhere.

"Harley thunder has arrived," declared Randy Miller of Hailey.

Big hogs of every color. Thunderous motors. Easy riders and their women. Attired in the requisite leather jackets and pants.

Great beards. Intimidating tattoos. Colorful kerchiefs flying.

Not exactly Norman Rockwell. But uniquely American, nevertheless.

More than 100 Harleys, with a few Hondas and other darlings of the road thrown in—along with several vintage hot rods—gathered Saturday at one of Ketchum’s favorite watering holes, Grumpy’s, for the annual "Toy Run" benefit for underprivileged Blaine County kids. A mix of locals and bikers from Twin Falls, Boise and other Idaho communities began arriving at noon.

"We do this just for the kids," said one of riders, dismounting from a bright blue Harley.

Boxes of toys provided by the riders were tied to the hogs’ back seats, along with brightly colored stuffed animals and rag dolls.

It was the eighth year of the toy event, said organizer Miller, who called it "a very successful run."

A big man with a full, reddish beard, Miller said the toys would be delivered to Hailey, and then distributed during the December holiday season.

On the receiving end was coordinator Janice Duncan, a tax adviser at the H & R Block office in Hailey.

"The toys sit in my office, a couple of hundred of them," she said in a telephone conversation. "I have a room full of trucks, dolls, stuffed animals, all kinds of toys."

Additionally, she said, this year’s event raised about $2,000 in cash to buy more gifts. County agencies and activists will package the gifts, along with food boxes, so they can be picked up at the Hailey armory in December, Duncan said.

As for Harley leader Miller, he surveyed the big crowd gathered at Grumpy’s and said, "It’s a good turnout. Every year it gets bigger and bigger."

Then, just a few minutes before 1 p.m., he stood on a bench and told the Harley crowd to listen up because it was time to move out. A police escort would get them through Ketchum.

"Got to watch all of these guys on Main Street," he said of the Saturday traffic. "Some of them are dumb."

Time to drain the steins, he said. "Finish ‘em up and let’s get rollin’."

A thunderclap of big hog motors announced the procession was underway to Hailey. A Ketchum police vehicle, lights flashing, led the way.

Good deeds deserve good rewards. Plans for a pig roast at Magic Reservoir would top off the day.

Reflecting on the unusual event at her H & R Block office, Duncan said she had reservations when the first event was held seven years ago. There’s a certain image about Harley riders, she suggested.

But now, she said, "I’ve totally changed my thoughts. They’re really kind, generous and good people."

Ron Soble


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