By Verbal Adam | OBSERVER Correspondent
The air was cold and dozens already were in line when the 18-wheeler pulled up to the Oak Park Community Center on Saturday morning. The children’s eyes grew wide as Wicked Wheels Motorcycle Club began unloading a seemingly endless supply of brand-new bicycles.
Attendees were encouraged to arrive between 10:30 and 11:30 to receive a free raffle ticket to the motorcycle club’s Christmas bicycle giveaway. A hundred bicycles were to be raffled at noon to families with kids ages 4-14. Several families arrived after the 11:30 deadline hoping for a chance to win a bicycle. They were told that if there were any bikes left after the raffle, they would be distributed to late attendees by order of arrival.
By 11:45, the ticket line had more than tripled and pickup trucks carrying bicycles were still being unloaded. “This is great for the community; it brings us together and we’re getting to know each other in line while we’re waiting,” Evony Watkins told The OBSERVER. “It’s a blessing.”
Those in line were treated to hot dogs, chips and beverages while children made hot cocoa inside the community center. Motorbikes with remarkably impressive sound systems filled the air with holiday music.
“These kids today are riding bicycles, 10 years from now they might be riding motorcycles,” said Roy Taylor, president of Wicked Wheels’ Sacramento chapter. “For a lot of these kids that got bikes, this will be the first bike they’ll ever get, and I actually have members in my club where their first bike was given to them by the Wicked Wheels. We give them bikes, we teach them how to ride, we feed the homeless – we do a lot for the community. It’s what we do.”
Motorcycle clubs, or MC’s, are often portrayed in media as gangs of rough ne’er do wells united by their love of motorbikes, bar brawls and organized crime. Some live up to that image. However, many are like the Wicked Wheels, who are united by community, charity, and service. Mandingos MC, Sista’z II Admire SC, No Politics MC, Iron Souls MC, Buffalo Soldiers MC, and Wise Guys MC all took part and, in Oak Park, are viewed as knights in shining armor.
Indeed, many children received their first bike at the event. And at the end of the day, every family left with a brand new bicycle. No child was left behind.
The Christmas season can be difficult for many families with children and for some parents, the holidays can be financially daunting. Rent prices, transportation costs, low wages and skyrocketing food prices can make buying presents difficult to impossible. This year, the burden has been somewhat eased for many in Oak Park.