Silver-trimmed Harley delivers Xmas cheer

Frances Burton, a resident at Golden Sands, receives holiday wishes, as well as a gift, from Santa Saturday. DAMIAN MULINIX photo

KLIPSAN BEACH - Santa Claus arrived at the Golden Sands Assisted Living Center in Klipsan Beach Saturday afternoon in a less traditional way than usual. Rather than a sleigh with silver bells, he was riding a Harley - with silver trim.

Mr. Claus was accompanied by his wife, who rode on the back of the bike, and a band of elves dressed in black leather and the look of the road. They were from the local A.B.A.T.E. chapter, and made their rounds Saturday during their annual stuffed animal giveaway. The group gave away teddy bears and the like to police and sheriff offices in both north and south Pacific County, as well as both hospitals.

The final stop on their journey was at Golden Sands, a place where the group has become quite welcome since offering rides on their motorcycles during a visit last summer.

Upon his arrival at the assisted living center, Santa was welcomed with a rousing rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," sung by the residents who were waiting for him. Santa took a seat in front of group that contained many of the residents of the home, calling out each by name and delivering a present from their caretakers, as a well as one his stuffed animals.

This also gave the opportunity for many of the older citizens to take a seat on Santa's lap one more time. When asked if they had been good this year, many were either honest or funny in replying 'no.'

"I thought you forgot me," said one woman who was one of the last to receive a gift from Santa.

"Oh no, I couldn't forget you Sally," said Santa.

The leather-clad elves handed out a total of 825 stuffed animals on Saturday, which they collected throughout the year.

"In fact, we've already got about 50 to 75 for next year at my house," said Lenny Pletsch.

The animals are mostly acquired through donation, although the club has purchased some in the past when they didn't have enough.

"It's not uncommon for me to come home and find my car full of stuffed animals," said Pletsch.

Originally, they delivered the animals just to the police departments, but about three or four years ago it got so big that they started donating to other places as well. This is the tenth year of the giveaway.

For those interested in donating a teddy bear or stuffed animal, Pletsch suggested calling the Old Fish Trap in Chinook, 777-8296, or the Hunter's Inn in Naselle, 484-9215, regular hang-outs of club members.

The stuffed animals do not need to be new, but they do appreciate it if they were a little less worse for wear. Each one is cleaned and inspected a few times before they are given away.

As the elderly residents' of Golden Sands eyes lit up with happiness at the gesture by the group on Saturday, it was clear what they were getting out of it. As it turns out, it's the same as those leather-clad elves.

"There's been some wet eyes this morning," said Pletsch of his fellow riders.

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