By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — It's a yearly ritual for Falls firefighters.
From late May through early June, they keep a close watch on the extended weather forecasts.
"We pray for good weather (in late June)," Fire Capt. John Castellani says. "It's a big deal for us because that's when the motorcycle run is."
It looks like Castellani's prayers have been, mostly, answered this year. When the 2013 edition of the Niagara Falls Firefighters Christmas Toy Fund Annual Motorcycle Run kicks off on Saturday, the forecast is partly cloudy, about 80 degrees and only a "small chance" of an "isolated" thunderstorm.
"It's a great event, the atmosphere is great," said Castellani, who is also the Toy Fund chairman. "The run goes down some winding country roads, with three really nice stops. The route and the scenery are beautiful."
The ride begins at Falls Fire headquarters on Walnut Avenue and wraps up on Falls Street with a concert and other activities. Among those activities is an the addition this year of a dunk tank which will feature as yet unnamed local politicians and your favorite firefighters.
"Real, live firefighters will be on display," Castellani said with a hearty laugh. "It will be great family fun."
Mostly importantly though, the proceeds from both the ride and the after-party will benefit the Toy Fund and its efforts to bring Christmas toys and winter clothes to needy kids in Niagara Falls and surrounding communities. The fund also holds a festive annual senior citizens holiday dinner.
Castellani says the bike run represents a significant contribution to the Toy Fund's bottom line.
"It's probably between 10 and 20 percent of our fundraising," he said. "So it is a big deal and we hope to do well with it this year. It goes along way in helping us get toys and clothes for the children."If you go: What: Eighth Annual Motorcycle Run to benefit the Niagara Falls Fire Department Christmas Toy Fund Drive When: Saturday, registration begins at 10 a.m. Where: Niagara Falls Fire headquarters, 3115 Walnut Ave. Why: To benefit the Niagara Falls Fire Department Christmas Toy Fund