By Wally Wersching
The City of Chesnee, SC has been holding conventional toy runs for over 13 years. Conventional – meaning that bikers ride in with toys, gather outside in the cold until the short ride, then come back to town to eat free food. Their toy run is always held the Sunday before Thanksgiving (November 20th this year), so the weather for riding motorcycles is not always perfect. In some cases, the weather has been dangerous for motorcycle riding with rain, cold temps, and strong winds.
Last year, the City of Chesnee, Dennis from Chesnee Classic Cycle, and the local Legends Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) changed the toy run completely into a combined Toy Run and Cruise-In for antique and classic bikes, and cars. It’s held at the Chesnee Shrine Club a mile west of downtown Chesnee, so if it is cold, people can be warm inside the building while they eat free delicious BBQ, and listen to the live band. This year, it was “Vic Velvet” providing the entertainment. All the proceeds of the event still go to the Chesnee Kops Kids Program that helps over a hundred children during the Christmas Season.
I left home about 12:15 with the sun shining, and the temps in the mid 40’s. I pulled into the Shrine Club parking lot at a little before 1pm. The smell of BBQ cooking filled the air. The Legends chapter of the AMCA brought many of their bikes, and had a booth set up for the silent auction. They were very friendly with all the people demonstrating the benefits of joining their chapter.
The legendary Pete Hill was there signing posters for the crowd. He holds so many records with his Harley Knuckleheads that it would be difficult to write them all down. Needless to say, he really is a legend in the sport of drag racing, and a member of the AMA Hall Of Fame.
There were a couple lines of classic cars and trucks all shining in the bright afternoon sun. The most unique car at the event was a 1913 REO Touring. It was driven to the event. I love the engine with its exposed rocker arms. I’d really enjoy watching it run. With more cars and bikes rolling in, the lot was filling up fast.
When Dennis gave the OK, there was an instant line and the free food was served. I heard people say that it was delicious.
I think this type of Toy Run/Cruise-In will be a winner for years to come. People were talking much more, and just the thought of being able to go inside if it were to rain, will bring in a lot more people – not only bikers. There’s a large parking lot behind the building where the spectators parked.
Later in the afternoon, a $300 door prize was given away compliments of the Tom McGrath Motorcycle Law Group. Each person bringing a toy got a chance to win.
I left a little before 2pm, and headed north on Rt. 221. I wanted to stop in at the 18th Annual Rutherford County Toy Run. They hold theirs on the same day as Chesnee’s, and it’s always difficult to go to both.