A pair of riders

A pair of riders

Live to ride, ride to give

The annual Toy and Rod Run draws bikers from far and wide to the North Island.

PORT McNEILL—With the throaty roar of a 1,200cc engine and a tap of the gearshift, fuzzy pink bunnies and a stuffed Christmas polar bear rolled away from the local Community Centre on the annual Toy and Rod Run to Port Hardy Saturday.

Of course, these and the many other toys taking part in the ride brought their leather-clad chauffeurs.

On the same day thousands of Harley-Davidson riders descended on Milwaukee, Wisc., for the company’s 110th anniversary, a smaller but hardy group of riders — most of them astride Harleys — made their presence known on North Vancouver Island. The annual Toy and Rod Run, hosted by Port McNeill riders Dawn Harilstad and Annie Leblanc, drew participants from across Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and as far as Alberta to the east and Salem, Ore., to the south.

Carrying toys and childrens’ fishing rods, the bikes toured to Port Hardy for a stop along Market Street in front of Carrot Park, then returned to Port McNeill for the traditional piling of the presents on the pool table at Gus’s Bar and Grill.

The toys are given to the local Lions Club for eventual distribution with the Gazette Hamper Fund Christmas Hampers.

Later Saturday, the riders and local residents mingled in Hyde Creek for the eighth annual Pig Roast and Stomp at the home of Darcy and Annie Leblance. Featuring a buffet style dinner, complete with pit-roasted pig, cash bar and live music from Steelhead, the event raised additional funds that will be donated to needy local causes.

See this week’s Gazette for images from the day.