DAWSONVILLE — Instead of traveling with elves by sleigh, Santa arrived in Dawsonville on Sunday with smiling men and women dressed in leather jackets and riding motorcycles.
The 21st annual Buck Jones Memorial Toy Run saw one of its largest turnouts this year.
The toy run started at the Cumming Fairgrounds with riders stopping first in Dawsonville before continuing on to Lumpkin County High School.
Jones, a former Cumming police chief who also worked for the Dawson County Sheriff's Office, started the toy drive after seeing a lack of charities helping families with presents at Christmas.
Jones died in 2010 at age 70, but the toy runs continues in his memory, growing bigger each year, according to organizers.
The toys donated Sunday in Cumming will provide presents to children in Forsyth County, while those collected in Dawsonville will benefit K.A.R.E. for Kids.
Toys gathered at Lumpkin County High School go to children in the Dahlonega area.
Dawsonville was waiting with open arms and trays of food for the hungry procession as it rolled in.
The riders were escorted by police to the Dawsonville Municipal Complex parking lot, where lunch was provided by The Pool Room.
K.A.R.E. for Kids volunteers were on hand with warm smiles to dish out the meals to the unconventional elves.
“We had a total of 305 bikes this year,” said Don Parkinson, Santa’s liaison and organizer for this year’s event.
Added his wife, Marilyn: “This is one of the biggest turnouts we’ve had.”
The Parkinsons are the owners of one of the Toy Run’s sponsors, Bikers Dream of Atlanta.
“Each bike is required to bring three toys, one for each stop, in order to ride. So we have at least 305 gifts for each stop,” Don Parkinson said.
To his wife, the toy run is their “way of giving back a bit.”