On Sunday, I had such an experience in a mall parking lot of all places!
On the first Sunday in December every year, thousands of gnarly, scary, hardcore bikers gather in this parking lot in Merritt Island. They decorate their bikes and themselves for Christmas and most importantly, each has a toy tightly strapped to their machines. Then the powers that be, close off all the streets from Merritt Island to Melbourne and led by the very serious and impressive looking Sherriff's department on their cruisers, Santa rips out of the parking lot with a wave and a rev of his huge Harley engine followed by the throng of 6000.
This was the 29th annual ABATE Toys For Tots bike run which benefits the Shriners Children's Hospital amongst other local charities and it has to be the coolest event I have seen in a long time.
The bikes are amazing and I am certainly not a petrol head, but they all are immaculate with gleaming chrome and enviable paint jobs. (Well I wasn't envious but John who has a 1974 Triumph TR6 was green!) Then of course you have the bikers, tattooed, leather clad, weather beaten, tabacco chewing. And that's just the women! You certainly would not want to mess with any of them outside a bar or in a road rage incident but here they totally went against any stereotype you ever had for them. They were madly polishing their engines (!) whilst wearing Santa outfits and elves ears, attaching bells to their handlebars and checking that the Tonka truck or the giant teddy bear was securely fastened for the ride.
John and I wandered around playing paparazzi for an hour before the kickstands went up. We saw some unbelievable sights. Lots of guys who could legitimately be Santa, many women in chaps, some who could pull them off, others, not so much! We saw, Harleys, Triumphs, Kawasakis, Ducattis, Vespas, bikes with side cars, 3 wheelers, 4 wheelers, and the list goes on. Let me tell you, the noise of the engines and the smell of fuel was intense and the buzz of excitement was just as intoxicating. The sheer volume of people and the good will behind the event was, I hate to sound American but here goes...AWESOME!
We took some great pictures and had a front kerb seat as they all pulled out, rather fast and rather close to my toes in some cases.
A great morning all for a great cause.
Hope you like the pictures!
|Gnarly Biker Dude|
|This will get very tangled on the ride!|
|Mr and Mrs Clause?|
|Leader of the pack|
|resting up for the big ride|
|My friend Rhonda|
|me shinning up a lampost to capture it all on my Flip|
|Imagine 100 times this|
|"Merry Christmas Man!"|