Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Zephyrhills, Santa's sleigh has horsepower

ZEPHYRHILLS — The story of Santa and his sleigh has etched itself into American mythos. But in Zephyrhills, Santa doesn't ride a sleigh. He rides a Gold Wing.

Related News/Archive

For more than 25 years, the Gold Wing Road Riders Association has helped the local community. Members of the motorcycle club ride in the annual Christmas parade and hold a rally where they travel from one mobile home park to the next on decorated bikes, stopping to sing Christmas carols. Along the way — in what they consider to be their most important job — they collect donated toys for needy families.

Brenda Dixon, a family service worker for Woodland Elementary who works with pre-K students and their families, says the need for donations has increased this year because more parents are jobless and are raising families on less.

"We've had parents who've thanked us because they didn't know what to do and they didn't have food to eat," Dixon said. "They don't have a whole lot, but I think it's very important the kids see toys under the tree for Christmas from Santa."

Dixon said, in addition to toys, the Gold Wings have donated food for families to have special holiday dinners.

Rick Northrop, the director for the Zephyrhills Gold Wing chapter, said the group received enough toys for more than 700 children last year, which was less than they had received in previous years.

Donation boxes are already set up in the clubhouses of most of the city's mobile home parks, including Betmar Acres, where the toys will be sorted and given to teachers all over east Pasco.

Northrop said toy donations should be unwrapped, because the teachers will wrap the gifts after they have been selected. Toys for all age groups are needed.

"We spend about six weeks collecting the toys," Northrop said. "With all the time we spend collecting the toys, it takes them less than 25 minutes to empty the hall."

On Dec. 12, chapter members will travel through the 40 or so mobile home parks on their route and collect the toys. Chapter historian Lyle Evans is one of the men who distributed the boxes and will take them to be sorted. He will also be riding a decorated bike through the parks later that night with his fellow chapter members.

"The ride through the parks is to show gratitude to the people who gave us the gifts," Evans said. "We sing carols, and the senior citizens enjoy seeing the decorated bikes."

For Evans, a sense of goodwill is the reason he participates.

"It's gratifying to see the community come together," Evans said. "Everyone gets benefit out of it, and it's good for holiday spirit."

Dixon thinks the Gold Wing riders should be proud of all they do each year.

"If it wasn't for the Gold Wings, it would probably be very hard to get enough donations to cover the families," Dixon said. "I don't know how we'd do it without them. They're angels."

Fast facts

If you go

The Gold Wings will ride in the Zephyrhills Christmas Parade on Saturday. The group's "Mingle and Jingle" rally and parade will be held Dec. 12 starting at Betmar Acres on State Road 54. Parade lineup is at 5:15 p.m., and the festivities will branch out to mobile home parks across the Zephyrhills area. For information,

visit the Gold Wing Road Riders Web site at

In Zephyrhills, Santa's sleigh has horsepower 12/03/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2009 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.