December is the month when quite a few bikers around Kanto look forward to doing the annual Tokyo Toy Run, but with COVID19 still an issue, we had to come up with something to show the children’s homes they weren’t forgotten at Xmas, but also make sure the kids and the participants weren’t put at risk.
The idea agreed upon was that we’d meet at our usual spot – a large [outdoor] service area car park on the Tomei expressway near Ebina, where we’ve met for the last few years, since it provides enough space to socially distance a lot of people. We’d then collect all the gifts in the back of a few cars, and volunteers would drive them to the childrens homes.
Since there was no ‘ride in’ to the homes we stayed at the service area from between 8 – 11am, much longer than we usually would, but we wanted to make sure people would have time to get there and drop off gifts, and safely chat without it being crammed into just an hour or so, as was the way in previous years when everyone would be delivering their own gifts.
On the day, in that window I think we had at least a similar number of bikes (and cars) stop by as a normal year (~70+), drop off gifts and say hello before heading off. It was also nice we got a lot of support as usual from families passing through in their cars, which is a good way to spread the word, and as usual, I’m pretty sure we picked up some potential new people for next year.
It feels good we could hold up at least half of the event. The second half is very much the ride in, playing with the kids, giving them rides on the back of bikes and sharing some food with them. I think we all missed that this year, but at least we could put together something since the organisers were very aware of a conversation that was had the very first year we did it off the back of the Gaijin Riders forum, which was that for the kids sake, they didn’t want it to be a one off, and so far we’ve managed over a decade despite quakes, typhoons and now pandemics.
The forum where this particular event was started eleven years ago has now moved to Facebook and the namesake website has since been bought up by another entity, but we do have a normal Facebook page for the event, and from this year another normal domain – Toy Run Japan – for those not on FB.
If you want more details on the event, check out any of these links and make a mental note or put in a reminder for next December – there’s a very good chance we’ll be doing it all again.