Teddy-bears took the place of skulls and crossbones Saturday as more than seven dozen motorcycle riders delivered good cheer on the annual Echo Toy Run.

Chrome wheels and leather chaps lined Echo’s Main Street for a few hours in the morning before engines roared over Interstate 84 and along Highway 395 starting at noon.

Alan Sells organized the effort once again, gathering friends and residents from all around western Umatilla County for the ride to Good Shepherd Medical Center.

The event was formerly launched from the now-closed Echo Saloon; H & P Cafe is the current rendezvous spot.

Shortly before the the start of the ride, Sells said attendance looked good, even though temperatures hovered around freezing and white flakes fell from the sky.

He said the yearly event gives riders an excuse to start up their bikes during times of the year normally reserved for chestnut roasting and slippers.

“Where else above the 45th parallel can you ride year-round?” Sells said with a chuckle.

Sharing those sentiments, Luis and Rose Aguilar of Umatilla said they get their bike out any chance they get.

Rose, who formerly worked in the children’s center at Good Shepherd, said she and her husband try to collect toys all year long for the toy run event.

Rick Brittain, president of the Freedom Cruisers riding club out of Umatilla, said his reason for attending was the same as the one held by everyone else — the kids.

“It’s for a good cause, and it’s a good excuse to ride,” he said, joining his companions Becky and Tom Wiggins in expressing their appreciation for the event.

The president of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club out of Hermiston, a man calling himself Loctite, said his riding group has joined in the toy run for a few years.

He said they try and participate with any charity effort that has direct impacts on the local communities.

Saturday’s event aims to provide those impacts, as stuffed animals will stay at the hospital for patients and visitors, while other toys will become a part of the Hermiston Police Department’s Christmas Express, arriving in the hands of children throughout the area.

 

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