Ride on to Old Gippstown

While many associate the coming of Christmas with the sound of jingling bells, for disadvantaged children the festive season will be ushered in to the roar of motorbike engines.

The Latrobe Valley Christmas Toy Drive Family Festival Day will be held at Moe’s Old Gippstown on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

Toys which have been donated by the community will be collected on the day and given to the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul for distribution to children in need.

The drive was organised to replace the Gippsland Motorcyclists Toy Ride, which was cancelled in September due to regulatory hurdles associated with running the ride.

In previous years the toys were collected by members of the region’s motorcyclist as they rode across the Latrobe Valley and were delivered to the participating charities at Old Gippstown.

However, the format of the event was changed to preserve the tradition and ensure local disadvantaged children continued to receive their Christmas gifts.

This year, motorcyclists will gather at Old Gippstown for the event, which will feature food and drinks, entertainment and rides.

Old Gippstown manager Kevin Reardon said he expected between 200 and 400 motorcycles to be on display.

“The spirit of the toy run lives on through the toy drive and from what I can see – and what (event organiser) Alf (Vella) can see – the people of the Valley are rallying behind it,” Mr Reardon said.

“We just want people to come because the fact that there’s going to be that many motorbikes is an attraction in itself.

“Instead of driving down the highway in masses they’ll be coming here and parking here, so it’ll be pretty much the same.”

Merry-go-rounds and dodgem cars will be among the rides on offer for visitors and Mr Reardon said the ride operator had agreed to donate 20 per cent of its earnings.

He said there would be market stalls and a DJ.

“We ask people to bring a new toy and if they’re so kind to make that gold coin donation which will go towards the purchase of new toys,” Mr Reardon said.