Ted Waddell | Democrat
KEVIN PREDMORE (AKA Santa Claus) dismounts from the sidecar attached to Ken Newman's 1998 HD Ultra Classic. Kaitlyn Newman, on passenger seat, rode with her father (pictured in the background) while a child waits to say hello to the man in a red suit with a white beard.
Presents For Needy Children Come On Two Wheels
By Ted Waddell
WURTSBORO December 5, 2006 There’s nothing like watching a bunch of bikers carrying hundreds of gaily wrapped Christmas presents to make John O’Toole’s eyes light up.
Especially when he knows that a whole lot of kids will be getting them just in time for the holiday season, kids who might not otherwise have much to smile about on Christmas Eve, as for a lot of them, things are a bit tough at home.
“We felt there was a need to care for some kids, and do something to make their Christmas a little happier,” he said of the Wurtsboro Harley Owners Group (HOG) and O’Toole’s Harley Davidson’s mission to make Christmas brighter for about 350 kids.
“It’s great to have Santa go over and distribute the gifts and make the kids happy,” he added.
Along with a bunch of HOGS running wild, other motorcycle clubs represented included the Renegade Pigs, a group of bikers in law enforcement and the Lost Chapter of the Nam Knights, made up mostly of Vietnam War vets.
Ken Kavanagh, director of the Wurtsboro HOG, rides a 2005 HD Road King Classic and has been involved with the annual toy run since 2001.
After starting to ride a few years ago back in 1972 while in the service, he gave up bikes to raise a family, but got bitten by the bike bug again.
“It was a midlife awakening,” said Kavanagh.
His take on the toy run?
“It gives everybody a chance to give back,” said Kavanagh. “We’re lucky enough to enjoy what we want, but some people aren’t as fortunate… they need a hand, and John gives back to the community and this is our way of helping him.”
Ken Newman and his 13-year-old daughter Kaitlyn were back again for the fifth time with his 1998 HD Ultra Classic with a factory sidecar.
Kaitlyn rode up from their home in Middletown in the sidecar, but for the toy run gave it up for Kevin Predmore of Middletown in the role of Santa Claus.
“It’s doing something good for the community and needy kids,” he said.
Asked what Christmas means to him. Predmore replied, “Just to see the sparkle in the little kids’ eyes on Christmas morning.”
“It’s that time of the year,” said Newman. “We’re here to do charity, enjoy ourselves and bring kids some happiness. That’s what we’re here for, and we wouldn’t miss it. It’s the time of year to help people out.”
Kaitlyn’s take of the annual event?
“I want to help the kids get presents,” she said. “I want to help ’em have a nice Christmas.”
On September 11, 2001 Joe Andujar was one of the NYPD heroes who responded to the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
He retired a couple of years ago with his HD Police Special, but his wife Lori flew back from their home in Florida to take part in the Wurtsboro HOG toy run.
“It means the world, it’s nice coming back home and doing this for the kids with the toys,” she added a few minutes before heading over to the local Head Start to take on the role of one of Santa’s elves by helping to hand out a lot of presents to a lot of kids.
“It’s a time to think of others, not just yourself,” she added.
Tisha Smith of Harris lined up to see Santa with her two children, Danielle Curry, 5, and 11 month old Emily Curry.
“It’s good, they like it and we come every year,” said Smith.