Santa rides toy run in high style
Founder member fills in as Father ChristmasBILL MOORE
The man wearing the Santa suit in the Ulysses Nelson Toy Run on Saturday wasn't chosen just because of his flowing white beard.
As well as having the right look, 72-year-old Barry Hamilton is one of the motorcycle club's originators in New Zealand and his membership number, three, is the lowest of any New Zealand member.
"Number one passed on about 10 years ago and number two only joined for one three-year period and never rejoined," he said.
Ulysses - motto "Grow Old Disgracefully" - began in Australia in 1983 and that was when Mr Hamilton joined after getting the application form from a magazine.
He was back in Oamaru soon after and took membership forms to dozens of motorbike rallies.
Membership is limited to over-40s. "I used to hand out the entry forms to anyone that I thought was old enough," he said.
"That's how it really got going."
When the number of members passed 400 in 1984, the club formed its New Zealand wing. It now has 3000 active members nationally, and more than 8000 in total.
Mr Hamilton moved to the Nelson region five years ago and lives in a bus at Marchwood Park, Motueka, from where he sallies forth on his Honda Shadow motorbike. But having just recovered from a major operation, he was riding pillion on a three-wheeled 1000cc Can-Am Spyder on Saturday - as befits the portly figure he was standing in for.
He said he liked to take part in all the Ulysses events, such as the Easter Egg Run and the Rescue Helicopter Run, as well as the Toy Run. "Ulysses is the main thing in my life, actually."
Ulysses Nelson branch co-ordinator John Macdonald said members valued their Ulysses number with great prestige attached to the lowest, and Mr Hamilton was a key figure in the group.
The toy run was the biggest Ulysses Club event in Nelson and was well supported by the 240 members, with non-members also welcome.
"You get the kids out too, on the backs of the motorbikes, which you don't normally see."
It was the 28th to be held in Nelson, with riders and machines of all shapes and sizes carrying toys from Richmond through Stoke and down Trafalgar St in Nelson before ending at the car park at the Trafalgar Centre, where there was a sausage sizzle.
Many of the bikes and riders are dressed up for the occasion, which attracts motorcyclists from the top of the South Island and the West Coast. The toys they give are distributed to children in the region by the Salvation Army.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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