Santa Claus is known for riding a sleigh throughout most of world. On Martha’s Vineyard, he rides a Harley and his name is Mike (Panhead) Fuss.

The event is part of the annual Red Stocking Fund toy drive, where the Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders club circles the Island picking up gifts for needy children and helping to donate over $11,000 to the charity.

“They’re really sweethearts under all that leather,” said fund volunteer Patricia Carlet. “We’re very thankful for what they do.”

The Harley Riders have teamed up with the Red Stocking Fund for the past three decades. The fund, started by Adele Crist in 1938, has spent 80 years ensuring that Island kids receive art supplies, boots, hats and mittens, as well as an item on their Christmas wish-list.

“She [Adele Crist] asked friends if they would help out, make sure kids had something to eat, something to wear, and something to play with,” said longtime volunteer Kerry Alley. “Christ, Crist. It’s no coincidence,” she added, referring to the creation of the Red Stocking Fund.

Panhead Santa with Sandy Joyce (left) and Susie Wallo (right) who head the Red Stocking Fund. — Mark Alan Lovewell

This year, around 15 bikers gathered at the Portuguese American Club on Sunday to begin their 2018 route. Depending on the weather, the bikers head from Oak Bluffs to Sharky’s in Edgartown, circle around to Menemsha, go through Conroy’s in West Tisbury, and make their way back to Vineyard avenue, where a warm chicken dinner awaits their 1 p.m. arrival.

Riders come from as far as Rhode Island to participate.

“They come to our ride, so we go to theirs,” said Joe Weatherbee. “We reciprocate. Weather permitting and boat running.”

Mr. Weatherbee came to the Island this weekend with his wife Clarissa. His flaming bandana was hard to miss.

“Dude wrap,” Mr. Weatherbee corrected.

John and his wife Linda Powers are two of the Vineyard riders who also participate in toy rides on the mainland. Mr. Powers couldn’t remember how long he’d been a part of the toy drive until he looked through his wardrobe earlier in the week.

“I found a sweater from the 1992 event the other day,” he said. “First thing I noticed was that it doesn’t fit.”

Although the Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders have decreased in membership over the years, the enthusiasm from the 15 or so who came out on Sunday more than made up for the decline in numbers.

“This is our best run,” said Mr. Powers. “It’s the most fun because you get to see the end result. There’s nothing like knowing kids will open those gifts.”

Mr. Powers and others donated gifts such as board games, stuffed animals, Flyer wagons, and, most appropriately, bicycles. Fifteen of them, to be exact.

Sunday's ride resulted in lots of toys and an $11,045 in donations. — Noah Asimow

“We bought all the bicycles in honor of Henrietta Gallagher,” said Randi Matthew, wife of Harley rider president Rainy (Rain Man) Matthew. Ms. Gallagher used to purchase the bikes for the Red Stocking Fund, but died three weeks shy of her 99th birthday in July of this past summer.

“We hope to carry on her legacy,” Ms. Matthew said. “She always felt that children should be surprised on Christmas morning. She was a very loving spirit in giving, that’s for sure.”

Ms. Matthew, who owns a Road King motorcycle herself, stayed back to prepare the chicken dinner for the riders, which included legs, thighs, mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed carrots and green beans. When Mike “Panhead” Fuss rolled into the PA Club parking lot, his cheeks were about as rosy as the Santa suit he wore on the ride.

Ten-year-old Rose Levesque embraced the day too, spending the entire two-hour journey riding with her father, Phillip Levesque. Her favorite parts were getting the chance to see deer and “moo-moos.”

“Cows,” her father clarified. “It’s a great thing for the community,” he continued, “to have our friends together. Anything we can do to help each other, we do. It’s an Island thing.”

Once everyone had warmed up and cleaned their plates, Rain Man Matthew, with his trademark sandpaper voice and Hulk Hogan moustache, revealed the total donations for 2018.

“$11,045,” he announced. “And there’s more coming.”

The toy distribution day is Friday, Dec. 14, from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Augustine’s Church.

Donations to The Red Stocking Fund can be made payable to the Red Stocking Fund, Box 600, Edgartown, MA 02539. For gift donations or other information, contact Susie Wallo 508-776-6050.