Though there was some fear about rain putting a damper on the fanfare, the skies momentarily cleared to allow the Burbank Bike Angels to show off some of the bicycles that are ready to be donated to children in the community.
About 50 of the roughly 200 bicycles repaired by the local bicycle advocacy group lined the front steps of Burbank City Hall Friday morning. Detailed Schwinns, Mongooses and beach cruisers sporting new hardware were just some of the bikes that were ready to go to their new homes.
It is the Bike Angels' eighth year collecting used bikes and repairing them to nearly brand-new condition.
"I didn't know when we started that this was going to grow to where it is today," said Elaine Pease, founder of the Bike Angels. "Every year, the requests grew, and every year, we get more bikes and volunteers. It's amazing now to be able to reach out to so many people in the community and people who we touched years ago."
A good portion of the bicycles will be donated to the Salvation Army Burbank Corps, but some will also be donated to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley, Family Service Agency and Penny Lane.
Pease said that bicycles benefit children by giving them the freedom to travel around the city and provide them with exercise. She said that the program also teaches kids about recycling and reducing pollution.
"The lowly bike can have a wide variety of benefits," she said.
Since around August, more than 100 volunteers have spent their free time tuning up and restoring the bicycles.
One of those volunteers, Burbank resident Stan LaFlotte, started volunteering with the Bike Angels four years ago after seeing a notice about the program in a utility bill insert.
LaFlotte went from not knowing how to change a tire on a bicycle to being able to conduct a full safety inspection and make any necessary repairs to a bike.
The bicycles, most of which are collected by the Burbank Assn. of Realtors and donated to the Bike Angels, arrive in various needs of repair. Regardless of the bike's condition, LaFlotte said he is more than willing to spend his time repairing something that will make a child in the community happier.
"I'm there the morning they're handed out to the families, so I see the kids and how happy they are to get a bike," he said, holding back tears. "I hear the parents saying how fortunate they are knowing that this organization is here to give them those bikes. That morning is what we work for."
Anthony Clark Carpio, email@example.com