GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some 1,500 children were surprised with new bicycles on Saturday morning during the 10th annual Elves & More bicycle giveaway.
The event by the local nonprofit gives out bikes to kids in a different neighborhood in need each year.
“Each year, we pick a new neighborhood, and we’ve been working our way around the city. We’ve got a lot of excited families, a lot of excited volunteers. It’s a beautiful day and a great day to give back to the community,” said Liz Bracken, an organizer.
The neighborhood is not alerted to the event ahead of time. Truckloads of bicycles and police cars drive through the neighborhood, blaring horns and sirens to awaken families.
Saturday, the parade of vehicles went down Eastern Avenue SE to Cottage Grove Street, to Marshall Avenue, then to Evergreen Street, where they turned into the parking lot of River City Scholars elementary and middle school.
“To get up to sirens blaring in my window, it was kind of like, ‘What’s going on?'” said Tamar Pringle, a father who lives in the neighborhood.
Pringle then got a call from his neighbors who told him about the bike giveaway.
“They’re like, ‘They are giving away those free bikes like they do every year.’ So you know we got the kids dressed — they were dressed before we were,” Pringle said.
River City Scholars Principal Brennecke Hinojosa said it was the perfect gift for the neighborhood.
“This is so exciting to have this happening on our campus today. To be able to watch our scholars come in and watch their eyes light up as they realize that they get a gift of a bike this Christmas, it has been outstanding. Our kids love to play outside and we’ll see the kids outside playing often in the summer,” Hinojosa said.
Children who got bikes also received helmets. Volunteers also put together treasure boxes with trinkets for children too young to ride.
Organizers of the event said they will begin planning for next year in a few weeks.
Elves & More of West Michigan