Sunny weather may have lulled us into forgetting that winter and Christmas are coming in just a couple of months, but the Hopkins family and the local biker community have not.
Carrying on his parents' legacy, Mission resident Barney Hopkins Jr., his family and many friends will hold the 26th annual central and upper Fraser Valley Toy Run on Sunday.
"It started 26 years ago with my mom and dad and some of our family. We had six people the first year, then about a dozen the next year," said Hopkins.
Last year, there were 800 motorbikes and 1,400 bikers participating in the ride, which collects cash and new toys for kids served by the region's food banks.
New unwrapped toys and cash donations all go to the Abbotsford Food Bank and Christmas Bureau, and that agency distributes the donations to the Christmas Bureaus in Mission, Agassiz, Chilliwack and Hope, said Hopkins.
"We also usually raise $10,000, beside the toys," Hopkins said.
It began in 1986 with his dad Barney and his mom Lenore, affectionately known as "Pa" and "Ma" by everyone who knew them, and some of their eight kids. The family would ride in the annual event together until Barney Sr.'s death, and for many years after, Lenore would ride a vintage white three-wheeler Harley her children bought for her. It will be on the ride again this year, when her son Danny will lead at the head of the entourage.
The ride is open to motorcycle enthusiasts of all kinds.
"Ma" once noted that "beneath all that black leather beat hearts of gold." Sadly, she died the day before the 24th toy run in a traffic accident in Mission, almost exactly two years ago at the age of 76.
But the legacy she began with Barney continues as strong as ever.
Hopkins, his siblings, their kids and "a whole lot of other people" help out every year.
"It's all about the kids. We've helped a lot of people have a Christmas over the years."
The toys and the donated money will go to low-income families identified by the food banks.
Mission riders will meet on Sunday morning in the Liquidation World parking lot on Horne Street, and leave there at 9:45 a.m.
They'll cross the Mission Bridge, ride west along Harris Road and then south on Mount Lehman to the Fraser Valley Auto Mall, where they will meet riders from Chilliwack.
From there, the motorcycle convoy will take Mount Lehman back to Downes Road, head east to Gladwin Road, then south to Haida Drive to the festive gathering in the Ag-Rec complex at Abbotsford's Exhibition Park.
In Chilliwack, riders will assemble at the Sears parking lot on Luckakuck Way, and leave there at 9:30 a.m. to travel to Abbotsford along the freeway. If you have a motorbike and a new toy, you're welcome to join the ride. There is no entry or registration. Just show up at one of the assembly points, Hopkins said.
And even if you don't ride, but want to donate a new toy or some funds, you are welcome to go to the Ag-Rec site with your donation between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
There, trophies will be handed out to some riders and recognition given to special sponsors. There will be raffles, 50/50 draws, door prizes and a draw for a quilt made from T-shirts from previous rides.
There is also a draw for a 50cc Yamaha moped. The ride is on rain or shine.