Photos by Rick Morales
Carrying on a Florida tradition
MARKHAM PARK, FLA., DEC. 6-9—It’s that time of the year again for a perennial ride in sunny Florida that opens the hearts of bikers. Even after 31 years, this particular charitable event is something special.
The annual Toys in the Sun Run was hosted by the Wings of Gold MC and sponsored by the South Florida President’s Councils, while the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County organized the Bikers Bash.
Even though the Toys in the Sun Run only takes place on one day, the Bikers Bash takes place three consecutive days before the run. I joined the Bikers Bash festivities on December 6 by arriving at the Alligator Alley Harley-Davidson dealership in Sunrise, Florida, to catch the opening day theatrics. We received our credentials and gift bags, music played in the background and a strong party atmosphere descended as finger food and drinks were served.
The next day, following a pre-ride continental breakfast at a local Hooter’s, we hopped on our bikes and were police-escorted for 35 miles at a rather brisk pace reaching 60 mph. At the Two George’s at The Cove restaurant in Deerfield Beach, we riders were presented with a delicious lunch.
But that was just a taste of what was to come. That evening in a truly magnificent themed ballroom at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino we were served an unbelievable gastronomical delight. From that moment on, it was clear this was a premier motorcycle event. There was a silent and live charitable auction along with great entertainment and music all designed to bring in much-needed charitable donations for the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County.
The next morning the police escorted us to Rick & Rita Case Club in the city of Davie. The kids showed the riders around their wonderful education complex and then Christmas presents were handed out.
These children are really something else! They were filled with gratitude and we received big smiles and thank-yous. It brought tears to our eyes! After that remarkable experience, we traveled 35 miles or so to Sawgrass Recreational Park in Weston to go on some airboat tours in the Everglades. But before we boarded the airboats, we were fed a lunch with alligator meat, which I must say still does not taste like chicken as some may claim! The airboat tours were exciting with the captain pointing out the environmental intricacies of the vast tropical wetlands. It was very cool!
Finally the Biker Bash riders coalesced with the Toys in the Sun Run riders on Sunday, bringing together over 30,000 riders all with toys in hand or strapped on their rumbling machines. This is the main thrust of this huge motorcycle gathering.
At 6:30 a.m. we lined up our bikes and soon left from the Festival Market Place in Pompano Beach. We then migrated south down I-95 and then west on I-595 (which was closed just for us riders). Police escort in tow we ended 25 miles later at Markham Park, where the day’s festivities kicked off in full swing. The Markham facility is over 200 acres and it took the last biker over 1 1/2 hours to get through the gate.
The history of this event goes back 31 years when visionary Bob Amchir had the forethought to create an event geared towards getting the biker community involved in charity. After Bob passed, his son Dave “Tattoo” Amchir took over for many years. Unfortunately, he too is now gone and the torch is now in the hands of the very capable Joey Quinter. With the help of his wife Lisa, his Wings of Gold MC and the South Florida Presidents Council, he takes on this herculean task of making this event a success.
To say the least, it’s important for the reader to understand this great event doesn’t just happen. The preparation for this event, which ultimately benefits the Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital Foundation, takes almost a year of planning.
As for entertainment, this year Bret Michaels and his band got top billing on the main stage while various local bands such as Soulicide, Roughshot and Silver Spike played throughout the day.
With a host of donations from high-profile companies and philanthropic organizations like the Rick Case Automotive Group, H.O.G. Fort Lauderdale, Team National Inc., Bret Michaels and the Children’s Charity Riders Association, combined with smaller donations, the event raised over $300,000. That’s a sizable sum!
The whole event could probably be summed up by a quote from a biker couple I met, “Mostly we came here to support the kids.”