Big bikes roar for Littles
By RANDY GONZALES
It was hard to tell who was having more fun: the bikers or the children they were giving rides to Tuesday.
Harley owners and Littles were smiling and laughing during the Harleys/Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County event at Frontier Park.
For at least the last 10 years -- maybe longer, nobody knew for sure -- the local Harley Davidson chapter, Fort Hays HOGS, has given rides to Littles on their bikes.
"They don't always get to do this," said Jenny Bates, program director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County. "Either their parents bring them out, or their Bigs bring them out.
"It's kind of a night for them to get together," she added. "Bigs get to ride, too, if they want to."
Lance Smith, in his second year as director of the local Harley chapter, brought about 20 bikers with him to chauffeur the Littles.
"We get a bunch of smiles, and we get a bunch of happy kids," Smith said. "They get to experience what we experience on our bikes; even for a short time, they will remember it for a long time."
There were all kinds of Harley bikes for the Littles to choose from, and even some three-wheelers, too.
"You've got pretty much the whole sales floor of Harley out here tonight," Smith said. "That's pretty cool; the kids get to pick and choose whichever one, and they can jump back and forth, try them all."
One of the Littles, Caden, was doing just that. His arm was bandaged from a skateboard accident, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from being there.
"It's not the first time, because my grandpa has a Harley, and I go riding with him," said Caden, 10, who was wearing a helmet, ready for another ride.
Caden also was at last year's Harley event; he knows what part of riding the big bikes he likes best.
"The vibrations of the motorcycles," he said.
Not every Little was ready to ride.
"They're maybe a little intimidated that first time putting that helmet on, getting on that first bike," Smith said. "But after they've done that first lap, they're ready to jump on the next one."
One Little was bound and determined not to ride at the beginning of the evening. An hour later, as the event was about to end, she climbed onto a bike with her mother. After she got off, the little red-haired girl jumped up and down three times and yelled as loud as her tiny voice would allow: "I went! I went! I went!"
Then she and her mom hopped on and rode again.