Ranch Riders Easter Egg Hunt: A Humble Beginning That Stayed Humble
When I tell you, "Bring your kids to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds Saturday," for the Annual Ranch Riders Easter Egg Hunt, I speak from experience. Years of experience. Decades to be more accurate.
When I first hosted the annual egg hunt for kids 25 years ago, I had no kids to tend to, and no real reason to be there, but for a favor owed to a biker by the name of Bob Clancy, and a promise of a few beers after it was over. That was back in 1991, when the members of the Ranch Riders Motorcycle Brotherhood had only recently opened the private affair for their members' families to the public.
I have been involved every year since, as it has grown from just one fun morning for some Quad City kids to a morning that helps all Quad City kids. At some point in it's history, the idea that all these kids and their parents might also want to help other kids with a donation to Easter Seals, later Children's Therapy Center of The Quad Cities, grew from a suggestion to implementation. A lot of the details are lost to history, but the money raised certainly does not get lost.
Randy Dyer, or 'Dolf' is the current President of the "Ranch" and a guy I consider a friend, gets a little humble when you start talking about the Egg Hunt. He estimates over $100,000 has been donated to kids over the years. That's a great total, but it doesn't begin to tell the whole story of the sweat equity that goes into those 30 seconds of craziness on Easter Saturday. Dyer prefers to talk about the raffles, and the egg-stuffing party (Open to the public, usually at Geezers the Wednesday before the hunt) where friends, relatives and friends of relatives gather to stuff candy into thousands and thousands of eggs that will be spread onto the fields in a matter of days. You can tell he's proud of the tradition of hard work paying off for the kids. He's been around the egg hunt since the beginning.
Over the years, I've been the DJ, and also parent as my kids went through their "Egg hunting" years. Even my son Joey has DJ'd the event! I've always appreciated how this normally gruff bunch of hell-raisers have such a soft spot for kids in the QCA. One year many moons ago, Bob Clancy told me they added a special field, "For the handicapped kids to have fun." The Ranch Riders Egg Hunt now sports 5 different fields for hunting eggs, divided by age, so there's no toddlers getting run over by older kids. They even make sure every kid leaves with something, even if they weren't quick on the draw out n the field.
Other things have changed since those early days. The Ranch has reached out to other Motorcycle Clubs in the area to help out with specific duties, and now it's a hobby-wide showing of clubs near and far. There's also face-painting, Jump Houses, Clancy's Cafe (Named in honor of our deceased friend Bob) all in an effort to generate the most money for The Children's Therapy Center.
And while they have donation canisters at the gate, no kid is ever turned away for lack of a donation. The Ranch Riders Easter Egg Hunt For Kids is just one of the unique events that made me proud to be a Quad-Citian. And while you might want to pat one of these guys on the back for all their hard work, they would rather you show up and help stuff a few eggs tonight at the Col Ballroom. You could also buy 'em a beer. All work and no play makes for a very dull biker.
Hope you can make it to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds Saturday. Gates open at 11, hunt starts at 1PM, courtesy of the unmistakable cannon blast.
Dolf arrived to the studio in style today. He rode his bike from Brady Street all the way down the hall to our studio: