Santa made his first pre-Christmas appearance in Mudgee on Saturday in grand style.
As he has every year for more than 30 Christmases, Santa led hundreds of motorbikes and classic and vintage cars through Church Street on the annual Toy Run.
Waving from the back of a purple truck, Santa was hard to miss as the Toy Run set out from the Mudgee Railway Station on its traditional parade through town, before riders continued on to Sofala, Hill End and Hargraves, ending at Windeyer where a fun day was held.
The Toy Run brought the town to a standstill as by-standers stopped to wave and clap for Santa and his escorts.
Toys and donations collected this year will be distributed by the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Barnardos to make local families’ Christmas merrier.
Carol Jones of St Vinnies, said people have been more generous than ever this year in support of the Toy Run, which is organised by a small band of volunteers.
“The toys have been coming in even before we got here,” she said.
Carol said the Toy Run was an important part of Christmas for St Vinnies and Barnardos.
“We work hand in hand at this time of year for all those doing it tough, to bring some hope and joy to all these people,” she said.
“The Toy run is getting bigger and bigger every year – it’s bigger than Ben Hur!
“A big thank you to the person who kicked stated it – how do you say thank you for that?”
Saturday’s riders ranged from the veterans who have been part of the ride from the start, to excited children riding pillion behind their parents on their first Toy Run.
Ray Leatherby of Gulgong was lining up the latest of “many, many rides” with his friend Chris Hughes, a relative newcomer on his sixth ride.
“It’s always for a good cause,” said Ray.
Ray Bowley of Windeyer, is another regular at the Toy Run.
“It’s about the mateship and it’s good for the charities,” he said.
Toy Run committee member Crash O’Brien said this year’s event raised $6500 for Barnardos and St Vinnies, as well as plenty of toys.
“There was huge and diverse range of riders and motorbikes and not a trouble in the world,” he said.
“A good day was had by all.”