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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

COMPARING NOTES AT O’Toole’s Harley-Davidson in Wurtsboro on Sunday before hitting the road were, from the left, charitable motorcyclists Art Rosen, vice president of the Catskill Mountain Region Renegade Pigs Motorcycle Club (an international group pf law enforcement bikers); Sandi "H.D. Honey" Collaro, secretary of the Orange County Chapter of ABATE of New York; Lew Morse, a member of the Wurtsboro HOGs; and Joseph Andujar, a NYC cop who served as this ride's tail-end Charlie.

An Annual
Tradition Continues

By Ted Waddell
WURTSBORO — December 13, 2002 – Who said pigs can’t fly? Who said HOGs don’t run “in the wind”?
“For years, motorcyclists have had a bad image, and here we have a bunch of guys freezing their behinds off to ride so kids will get a Christmas they otherwise probably wouldn’t have,” said Ralph “Gypsy” Corwin of Bloomingburg.
And Corwin should know.
Even though he left his 1988 Harley-Davidson Lowrider Custom motorcycle home in the shed this year because of all the snow on the road, he’s been part of the annual Christmas Toy Run sponsored by the HOG (Harley Owners Group) Wurtsboro Chapter every year since it was kick started in 1985 by John O’Toole, owner of O’Toole’s Harley-Davidson dealership.
When not delivering toys to needy kids, Corwin takes photographs at auto racing events such as Kauneonga Speedway, where he is the designated track shooter.
Over the years, he’s had a stable of bikes. Starting out with a Ducati, Corwin rode four classic Triumphs before moving up to the first of his trio of Harleys, long considered to be a cherished American icon of independence created in case-hardened steel and polished chrome.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” added “Gypsy,” wearing his trademark Stars and Stripes dome wrap.
As the annual toy run geared up, four riders compared notes on how to get to the Sullivan and Woodbourne QWL Catskill Activity Center – their destination – about 25 chilly miles down the windswept highway.
Art Rosen of Mountaindale, vice president of the Catskill Mountain Region Renegade Pigs Motorcycle Club (an international group of law enforcement bikers); Sandi “H.D. Honey” Collaro, secretary of the Orange County Chapter of ABATE of New York; Lew Morse of Middletown and a member of the Wurtsboro HOGs; and NYC cop Joseph Andujar of Monroe, with his distinctive Harley-Davidson Police Special.
“I’m a policeman and a volunteer fireman,” said Andujar. “It’s all about giving back to the community and doing the right thing. It’s a warm feeling when you’re able to help out somebody who needs a little help. . . . The expression on their faces is the ultimate satisfaction.”
As one of the first responders to the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001 on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, Andujar used his 2000 Road King Police Special to clear the way to Ground Zero.
“It’s got a lot of funny lights, and you’re never stuck in traffic,” he said of his trip to Lower Manhattan.
Andujar arrived about an hour and a half after the fall of the second tower and wound up spending the next two and a half months at Ground Zero.
“It was an indescribable experience,” he recalled. “The shock, the fear and an overwhelming sense of not being able to do enough. It changed my life.”
A little more than a year later, the member of the Wurtsboro HOGs donned protective black leather, cranked up his police special and signed up to ride as the tail gunner for the 17th annual toy ride.
Clearing the way for the ride was Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Tim Murray. The 11-year veteran led in his patrol car, reportedly declining to ride “in the wind.”
The youngest rider this year was 9-year-old Katelyn Newman, who rode with her dad, Ken Newman of Middletown, astride his 1998 Harley Ultra Classic, the company’s 95th Anniversary Model.
Before the toy run, she helped wrap presents. Following the ride, she helped Head Start volunteers, fellow bikers and Santa (aka Gerald Joly) hand out gifts to lots of happy kids.
“I think it’s exciting that I’m going to help Santa give out presents,” said the youngster, moments before jumping up on the father’s motorcycle.
Faces in the crowd included Lee Gazelman of Burlington, CT, a locksmith at a federal prison, who rode the furthest distance on his 1998 HD Standard; the Rev. Rich Reinhardt of Pine Bush, who took shelter behind a black leather face mask; Bob Carieri, past president of the Wurtsboro HOGs, who said riders included members of the local HOGs, Renegade Pigs, Steel Talons and “a lot of independent riders”; and 9-month-old Chrimaz Thompkins of Hurleyville, who was tickled baby-pink with her gift from a fittingly red-suited and white-whiskered Mr. Claus.
John and Joan O’Toole recalled starting the annual Wurtsboro HOGs Toy Run.
“One year, it was so cold only one biker – Bob Harris – showed up,” said Joan O’Toole. “It was a tough year, but he stuck it out.”
John O’Toole said the HOGs “do it to help out some of the kids in the county, children who might not be as fortunate as others in the community.”
“It brings a little Christmas spirit to them, and it makes everybody feel good,” he added. “Seeing their smiles makes it all worth while.”

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