Cycle run to benefit fireworks

Sean C. Morgan

Motorcyclists will have the chance this weekend to make a little cash for themselves and raise a lot more to help pay for the Sportsman’s Holiday fireworks display.

The Fourth Annual Sweet Home Choppers Fireworks Poker Run begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday with a $5 pancake feed at the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District Fire Hall, 1099 Long St.

Last year, the poker run raised $700 with about 150 attending to help the Sweet Home Volunteer Firefighters Association pay for the annual Sportsman’s Holiday fireworks display. Two years ago, it raised $940 with about 200 attending.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. The last bike out is 10 a.m.

Motorcyclists will collect six playing cards starting at the Fire Hall, said LeAnn Victor, who is organizing the event. From there, they will travel to Tomahawk in Marcola, Grid Iron Sports Bar and Grill in Harrisburg, Brownsville Saloon and finally Sweet Home Choppers, picking up a new card at each stop.

Brownsville Saloon is always a favorite stop because of its history, Victor said.

The rider with the best hand will win $100. The lowest poker hand will win $25.

Riders are expected to finish at about noon, Victor said. At the end of the run at Sweet Home Choppers, the volunteer firefighters will serve a barbecue lunch on a donation basis. Members of the public are welcome to join the motorcyclists at Sweet Home Choppers.

At 1 p.m., local rock band Shades of Gray will perform.

Jobe Woosely and his Two-Man Flannel Band played the event last year, Victor said, but Woosely will be busy helping and playing at Psychostock at Sankey Park that day. So she contacted Shades of Gray for the gig.

Motorcyclists also will compete in three biker games following lunch, including the wiener bite, where a passenger on a motorcycle must bite a hot dog suspended between two poles as the bike is driven between them.

Other games include the balloon toss and the slow race. In the balloon toss, a biker must toss a water balloon over a bar and catch it on the other side while driving under the bar. In the slow race, the winner is the last biker to cross the finish line, but the rider may not touch the ground with his or her feet.

The event includes a 50-50 raffle and drawings, with prizes from more than 25 Sweet Home businesses plus several of Sweet Home Choppers’ vendors.

The poker run started as an event for Sweet Home Choppers, Victor said. “The first year, we just had a poker run. The second year, we thought we could utilize the proceeds to do something for the community.”

The day Sweet Home Choppers owners were deciding what to support, they received a letter from the Firefighters Association looking for donations, Victor said. They decided that’s the cause they would support.

“It’s part of our community, and it’s been a part of our community for a long time,” Victor said. For a lot of children, it’s the fireworks show they watch each year.

All motorcyclists are welcome to ride in the poker run, she said. The cost is $5 per poker hand.

Everyone is welcome to the barbecue and raffles afterward, Victor said.