32nd Annual San Luis Obispo County Toy Run

San Luis Obispo County Toy Run
To heck with the sleigh, this Santa has a motorcycle.

Christmas is upon us – almost. On the first Sunday of December was the big toy run event in my California neighborhood, going on since 1980. And getting bigger every year. It’s a seemingly simple affair, organized by Bernard’s Specialty Cycle, and while more than a thousand people came to the event this year, very few were aware of the considerable effort that Bernard and his crew put into the happening. Around nine o’clock in the chilly morning hundreds of bikes started showing up on the promenade in Avila Beach, where a dozen establishments were selling coffee and doughnuts. A toy run provides a meeting place to see people you haven’t seen all year, walk up and down, admire new motorcycles, ooh and aah at all the gifts that are strapped to the handlebars, the luggage rack, or in a backpack. A little after ten a dozen yellow-vested volunteers started organizing the departure, and with a police car in the lead the majority of the crowd headed off at 10:30 for the 50 miles to Creston and the big lunch.

San Luis Obispo County Toy Run
Whew!! There sure are a lot of people today.

Two routes lead to Creston, either the twisty CA 58/229, or the straight CA 41.  Take your pick. Probably 500 bikes started from Avila, but a lot of late-risers headed straight for the Loading Chute Restaurant in Creston. At the entrance you handed in your toy plus $5 and got your meal ticket. Out in the back a professional barbecue outfit had set up set up a couple of huge grills to deal with the ton or more of tri-tip that would be consumed, along with beans, salad and toasted bread. A band was playing, and stacks of goodies were going to be raffled off, with people buying yards of raffle tickets knowing the money is all going to needy youngsters. The day turned out beautifully, with blue skies, 60-degree temperatures, and a whole lot of toys and money collected to go to those who are less fortunate than we are.

I bet there is a toy run in your locale. Be part of it.

San Luis Obispo County Toy Run
Avila Beach, the start of a beautiful day.
San Luis Obispo County Toy Run
A field in Creston held most of the bikes.
San Luis Obispo County Toy Run
Over a thousand hungry folk will eat a lot of tri-tip.
San Luis Obispo County Toy Run
For vest decoration, the Toy Run had its 32nd annual pin.


  1. Thank you Sue Salvadori for the news! What a wondeful event for such a worthy cause. I know “bikes” have becvome really popular and a wonderful travel adventure! You will make a lot of children very happy..with a big smile on their face.
    I live in the NW corner of Minnesota,10 miles from the Canadian Border. We just don’t have enough warm days to own bikes. But sounds like a lot of fun! We own snowmobiles but could very well do an event similar. Great idea!
    Happy Riding! Kathleen Hunter Lancaster, MN

  2. I attended the run in 1993. I had elk horns on my 68-shovelhead. (the only one done up). did anyone take pictures?. my wife died in an accident on los Osos valley road a short time later. these pics would be precious to me as all was lost in a house fire. if you have any please e- mail them to the address indicated, I’d be very grateful.


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