The Prince Rupert Harley Riders Poker and Toy Run is revving up for its 40th anniversary on Sept. 18.
The annual event is held to raise money for the Salvation Army and help people in need of food and clothing, Chris Rose, the event organizer, said.
Bikers will meet at noon in front of the Prince Rupert Salvation Army before setting off on a poker ride around Kaien Island.
“The Prince Rupert Harley Riders will welcome any type of bike. We’ve had scooters in there, mopeds, everything,” Rose said.
As they’ve zipped up city streets and down the highway in previous years, onlookers lined the streets waving at the riders while other motorists honked as they saw the bikers whiz past them.
“It’s kind of cool,” Rose said. “You can hear us coming from quite a [distance] away when you get a hundred bikes.”
The pack of riders will leave from downtown, venturing up Highway 16 to Port Edward, then loop back around to the seaplane base, the Prince Rupert waterfront and finish near the BC Ferries terminal.
Bikers will ride to five designated stops along the route to pick cards out of a deck. Each participant will have to pay a $20 participation fee per hand of five cards, to take part in the poker draw. At the end of the ride, the participants who draw the highest 10 cards will take home half the pot, with the other half being donated to the Salvation Army.
“It’s a good cause. People need help in this town, and that’s what small towns are all about — helping one another out. We’re like one big family,” Rose said.
Each year, the one-day event raises between $10,000 and $15,000. Over the past 40 years, the group rides have raised over $700,000 for the Salvation Army, as well as some of the donations have gone to the Prince Rupert General Hospital, Rose said.
Nearly 100 riders are expected to participate in this year’s event, up from 70 last year. Before the pandemic, the event would see over 120 riders participate. Bikers from all over the North West are expected to attend, including riders from Kitimat, Terrace, Smithers and Prince George. Some are expected from as far away as the Lower Mainland pending COVID-19 restrictions, Rose said.
For those who don’t take to the road, there will be 50/50 draws, door prize tickets as well as T-shirts for sale, with all profits going to the Salvation Army. Prizes include a treat suite at The Crest Hotel and gifts from local shops.
Due to COVID-19 regulations the dance, live band music and dinner that normally accompanies the event have been called off for another year, as well the BBQ that is usual at the Port Edward Firehall will be passed up this year.