FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2015
28th ANNUAL SPRINGS TOY RUN: CANCELLED
A 27-year tradition in Colorado Springs is being forced into cancellation this year, as organizers find themselves being denied a police escort.
The 28th annual High Country Toy Run will not be rumbling through Colorado Springs this year. The 100% not for profit charity ride which has benefitted the US Marine Corps “Toys for Tots”, “Santa’s Workshop” at Fort Carson, and several other El Paso County schools, churches and other groups has been cancelled due to public safety concerns after being denied support from the City of Colorado Springs police department, per mandates from the City’s special event department (Park & Rec).
“Our concerns started last June when the City’s department of special events began making changes in the process,” said Jim Wear. “Our toy run has been declared a “city wide special event”, which mandates a 17 page application, fees, meetings, presentations, financial statements, and a host of other paperwork and requirements.” Wear added, “At that time, we did not feel that this designation was fair or appropriate and department heads at both the Department of Special Events and the Police Department unofficially agreed.”
Based on these conversations, organizers were confident that the Toy Run would likely receive consideration for their request, especially in light of the 27 years of steadfast police department support for the charity ride. “All we require is a simple 30 minute police escort. We are not closing streets and we begin and end on private property. The Toy Run does not meet the criteria of a City Wide Special Event, and it never has.” Wear continued, “Other processions like funerals, visiting dignitaries, Honor Flight and troops returning home can all get police escorts outside of the special event process, and, do so regularly.”
Wear pointed out that all of the new restrictions and requirements set in place regarding special events are a product of the previous city administration. “We were hopeful that our new Mayor and new Council would see the error where the Toy Run was concerned and work with us to compromise for the benefit of the kids in need.”
Cost was an additional concern. “For the first 20 years, our police escorts were free. For the next several years, we paid a nominal fee. In 2007 our police bill was $400 and our cost steadily grew to $1,500 in 2014. This year our bill to CSPD was to be $3,000, and although we felt that was extreme, we were prepared to pay. Unfortunately, we were then denied the escort as the decision makers refused to work with us regarding our designation as a “city wide special event.”
The City’s special event department representatives suggested that Wear proceed with the Toy Run anyway. “After much consideration, we determined that was a really bad idea. There is no way to put 1,000 motorcycles onto the city streets – whether all at once or in small groups – and keep everyone safe.” Wear added, “With out the support from the police department it would be irresponsible for us to try and pull this off. Public safety is now and always has been our first concern.”
The real losers here are the children in need. Wear estimates that nearly 100,000 kids in El Paso and Teller Counties have benefitted from the Toy Run in the past 27 years. “We not only collect the toys, but we distribute them ourselves as well. This has been always been a homegrown effort that we see through start to finish.” Rural El Paso and Teller County kids have been the beneficiaries. “We go where people have little opportunity for support and are in the most need. Those who live inside the city limits have many resources. Folks who live in Cripple Creek, Ellicott, Calhan and the like really need our help.”
“Santa’s Workshop” at Fort Carson has also been a long-standing beneficiary of the High Country Toy Run. “It is unfortunate that those who serve our country sometimes need a hand in providing for their kids at Christmas, but it is true.” Wear said, “We have been proud and humbled to be able to help in a small way.” Wear added, “We grew up in Colorado Springs. I was born here. This town has always taken care of our own. Now, bureaucracy trumps common sense and the common good. We are sick over this whole situation.”
The United States Marines who operate the Toys For Tots program will be at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum / Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson parking lot on Sunday, October 4th from 8am to 11am to collect donations and distribute the 2015 Toy Run pins. “We are being forced to cancel the Toy Run, but we are not abandoning the effort,” said Wear, “We already bought the pins and paid for all the advertising, and we are just going to have to absorb that cost, but we want to make sure that people who didn’t get the word about the cancellation will still have the opportunity to contribute to this important cause.”