December 15, 2006

Angels on motorcycles

By Luis Alonso Pérez.

Like every year since 1985, bikers from the United States, Canada and other Mexican states made thousands of disadvantaged kids happy with their traditional toy run titled “Caravan of happiness”.

For 21 consecutive years, members of the Tijuana motorcycle club “Solo Angeles,” in collaboration with dozens of North American clubs, have personally donated and collected thousands of sponsored toys raffled among needy children.

Hundreds of families gathered early Sunday morning on Revolucion Avenue to watch the bikers arrive and wait for the toy draw.

Mr and Mrs Santa Claus deliver Christmas presents to the children of Tijuana.

You could hear the roaring sound of their bike’s motors from far away. The caravan crossed the border around 9 a.m. and crossed through town, creating a surprising spectacle for bystanders watching them ride by.

Big guys with long beards, tattoos and leather jackets paraded with their wives on their shinny Harleys. Some wore Santa Claus disguises; other wore reindeer horns on their helmets.

Enthusiastic children waved to more than 10 thousand participating bikers as they rode along, each one carrying a toy that was raffled during the event. Some gave out candy to the little ones and others took pictures with them.

The motorcyclists parked on Revolucion Avenue and packed over ten blocks, turning it into a large bike show and a festive Christmas reunion for bikers and their families.

For ten straight years the event has been done in the same spot, and is now considered a local tradition.

Rubén Hernández Granados, better known as “Cacharpas Bill”, renowned local radio host and member of the Solo Angeles club, said that this year’s goal is to give away 15,600 toys.

With a microphone in his hand, Cacharpas Bill announced the arrival of the different motorcycle clubs, and thanked the event’s organizers and sponsors.

Octavio Corona, Tijuana’s Economic Development Secretary, said he looks forward to working with Solo Angeles to promote a larger attendance for next year’s event.

Hundreds of families congregated in front of three large platforms and waited for the main event, the bicycle raffle and the toy giveaway.

Dozens of bikers announced the winning numbers and gave away toy cars, dolls, and teddy bears, just to name a few. The kids received the presents with a smile but where rushed by anxious youngsters waiting in line behind them. In the end everyone went home with a present.

Gonzalo Martinez stood in front of his Harley and watched the spectacle from far away with a big smile in his face.

He was born in Mexico City, but has been a Los Angeles resident for more than three decades. This is the fourth straight year he attends the event, motivated by the satisfaction he gets from watching the kids receive a toy and the good time he spends with family and friends.

Gonzalo hopes that the young ones attending the event have the opportunity to work as hard as he did when young, so they can make the wish of owning a Harley come true when they become 50, just as he did.

Standing next to him is his good friend Carlos Díaz, born in Honduras but now resides in Laywood, California.

Both bikers smile when they see kids riding their bikes or carrying teddy bears. Their faces reflect the deep satisfaction they get from the hard work done by the Solo Angeles and thousands of good hearted bikers.

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