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Santa on Harley brings Christmas in July to Franklin County

July 28, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Keystone Chapter of ABATE is responsible for the bluish purple "Motorcycles are Everywhere" signs dotting roadsides in Franklin County, Pa. Probably never was the group's point more evident locally than when 200 engines roared with power Sunday afternoon at M&S Harley-Davidson.

The bikers - with Santa Claus among the crowd - followed a police escort from the business' parking lot toward their destination, the American Legion grounds in St. Thomas, Pa., where Blackwater Still waited to perform.

Proceeds from the fifth annual Christmas in July parade benefited the Royal Family Kids' Camp for abused and neglected children. Calvin Wolfe, president of the ABATE chapter, estimated the event would raise about $7,500.

"We have a lot more participating than we ever had before," Wolfe said.

Members of ABATE (Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education) solicited support at area businesses and met at M&S Harley-Davidson because the Falling Spring Road motorcycle dealer is a platinum sponsor of the organization, Wolfe said.

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ABATE member Tom Englerth said five months worth of planning preceded the Christmas in July ride.

"I think anytime you get bikers involved in a charity, they'll show up," he said.

Ed Stavish of Hagerstown said he would encourage others to "come and support the kids" in future years.

"It's for a good cause," Stavish said. "If you're going to ride anyway, you might as well do it with a group and for a good cause."

"We're going to help collect money for the children and help the children," said Elton Ensor of Warfordsburg, Pa. Ensor is a longtime participant in several charitable and veterans rides.

"We do a lot of charity rides, so this fell into what we do on the weekends," said Bob Johnson, of State Line, Pa.

He and his wife, Rose, have traveled many miles on motorcycles. One trip to South Dakota netted 1,800 miles for the couple.

"We were going to go this year, but the gas prices held us back," Bob Johnson said.

Wolfe said he's seen an increased interest in motorcycles since gas prices escalated.

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