It was an ideal day to ride. The sun was shining, the sky was mostly clear and the forecast called for only light winds and no rain.
And to make it even sweeter, the motorcycle riders who arrived at the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Fountain on Sunday morning had a purpose: They were here to participate in the 29th High Country Toy Run, which provides toys for children in El Paso and Teller counties during the holidays.
More than 1,000 motorcycles and about 1,500 riders showed up and donated about 4,000 toys, event organizer Jim Wear said. The only requirement to join the toy run, which ended about 10 miles away at Anchors Country Bar, was to donate at least one new unwrapped toy.
Some of the riders had stuffed animals such as teddy bears tied to the backseat of their motorcycle to look as if they had a riding partner.
The donations will benefit Toys for Tots and Santa’s Workshop at Fort Carson.
For every year – but 2015 – since 1988, the toy run took place in Colorado Springs. Organizers canceled last year’s event because they couldn’t get a police escort for the expected 1,000 motorcycle riders.
The toy run returned this year after Fountain city officials contacted him and said they’d provide a police escort. He filed for a specials event permit, and the city got a group of law enforcement agencies that helped turn a stretch of southbound Interstate 25 into a sea of motorcycles on Sunday.
Wear called the toy run a success.
“We did this for 27 years and then had to cancel it,” he said, “so after investing almost three decades in it and not to do it was really hard. We’re very, very happy now. And we’re going to be able to service all the kids that a lot of them didn’t get taken care of last year. It means a whole lot to us.”