Toys in the Sun Run brings out thousands of motorcyclists
Tens of thousands of motorcycles roared over closed freeways of Broward Country early Sunday for the annual Toys in the Sun Run. Harleys with teddy bears on their handlebars and racing bikes carrying Grinches sped from Hollywood to the Everglades.
The ride began at the Mardi Gras Casino in Hollywood where thousands of riders, many dressed in holiday garb, began arriving as the sun rose over the vast parking lot — which was eventually filled with iron and chrome.
The thunderous sound of tens of thousands of motorcycles being fired up was preceded by quiet prayers from Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Rabbi Howard Needleman of the Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El of Plantation.
Wenski, who rode the route on his Harley-Davidson, prayed for "the children for whom we ride" before the start of the event.
"Grant their parents and their families strength in their trials," he said. Needleman prayed that all those who ride, "ride in safety."
The ride was late getting started this year, as organizers opted to wait for the FEC train to pass before getting under way. The train, which runs just west of the casino, split the ride in half last year.
Dave Armchir, of the South Florida President's Council, told the crowd that they "could hear the train," as he spoke onstage. "When this train is done, you guys will be mounting up and making your way to Markham Park," he said.
Country entertainer Charlie Daniels was scheduled to perform at the park.
Armchir was hoping for 50,000 riders this year.
"Every year you try to do better," he said. "We have the weather on our side, and we've got a great party at Markham Park, so we're hopeful we can hit that 50,000 today."
Many of the bikers wore Santa suits or hats, like Anthony Lopez, of Miami, who rode on a green Kawasaki.
"Just doing the right thing," Lopez shouted over the din as he rode by. "Worth every penny."
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel was also on hand, although he chose to ride in a Camaro convertible.
"It's people having a great time," Israel said. "It's going to be a very safe motorcycle ride, but it's all for kids. It's just a great community event."