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Nevada County Food and Toy Run will not continue

Well over 500 motorcyclists took to the streets of Nevada City and Grass Valley last December to take part in the 2020 Nevada County Food and Toy Run.

The Nevada County Food and Toy Run will not continue, said Chief Executive Officer and founder Thom Staser.

The event had been held since 1991, with a caravan of motorcyclists gathering each December to ride through Nevada City and Grass Valley before reaching the Nevada County Fairgrounds. There they would deliver toys and food for numerous families over the years.

Staser declined to state any specific factor which led to the decision to end the event.



A LONG HISTORY

Hundreds of gifts were dropped off last December by the motorcycle riders of the annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run.

On the motivation which sparked the event’s 29-year run, Staser said last December, “I started this because I grew up in this area, and we could have used a toy run.”

The event saw significant growth following its inaugural ride in 1991, which had 90 bikers as participants, according to the Nevada County Food and Toy Run website.



In 2006 the event was expected to draw more than 1,000 motorcycles — and then, in 2008, Staser said the Toy Run would go on rain or shine, expecting 1,500 bikes if weather was good.

Staser often made quips about the weather, saying that it never rained on the Nevada County Food and Toy Run, and estimated in advance of the event in 2018 that it could draw between 1,500 and 2,000 bikes that year.

Community sponsorship of the event also built up over the years. From 41 sponsors in 2010 — including individuals, clubs, and local businesses — the event brought in 83 sponsors in 2020, according to sponsor lists published on its website.

Last year, the 29th annual Nevada County Food and Toy Run saw some changes from those held in previous years, among them the shift to Interfaith Food Ministry in Grass Valley as its ending point.

The event also adjusted to comply with the pandemic restrictions in effect at the time, such as asking that riders wear masks, stay on or close to their vehicle, and efficiently complete their drop-offs before families would be let in, according to an announcement Staser wrote last year on the event’s website.

The 2020 Nevada County Food and Toy Run would be “huge,” serving over 400 families, Staser said prior to the event. In a typical year, it had served around 300 families, he said.

According to the nonprofit’s website, each family in need received a turkey or ham and donated foods, in addition to each child receiving at least three toys.

‘A TRADITION’

In a November 2019 meeting of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the county’s supervisors adopted a resolution proclaiming Dec. 14, 2019, as Nevada County Food & Toy Run Day, county records state.

At the 2019 meeting, Supervisor Dan Miller likened the event to “an institution” in Nevada County, comparing it to local holiday events such as Grass Valley’s Cornish Christmas and Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas.

“And to see all these hardened bikers with Christmas presents on the back of their bikes is something that the community looks forward to and appreciates,” said Miller. “And for our support and thanks … it’s a community thanks to you and the effort that your volunteer crew does each year.”

Supervisor Ed Scofield said Wednesday that the Board of Supervisors was “always happy” to recognize Staser for his work on the Nevada County Food and Toy Run during his annual visit to the board’s meeting prior to the event.

“It’s really been a tradition for a long time,” said Scofield of the Toy Run. He described it as heartwarming to see, and “really quite a sight“ from Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley, where he liked to watch it.

Until 2008, Scofield served as CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds, which prior to last year was the ending point for the Toy Run’s route.

Scofield noted that Staser “brought in an incredible amount of motorcycles” to the fairgrounds during each year’s event, and that despite the sizable crowds, he was never aware of any issues with keeping people in the correct areas or with the food and toy distributions.

He credited this to Staser and event volunteers organizing the event so well.

Expressing that he is sad to see the event end, Scofield said, “Thom did an incredible job with it.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com


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