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Dec 5, 2011
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Big Wheel Rally

By Jared Curtis

Participants prepare to leave Zimm’s during last year’s event. The 2011 Big Wheel Rally takes place on Saturday, Dec. 2, starting at Zimm’s, 3124 Ingersoll Ave. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/7ajvo6f.

Big wheels and big fun at annual event

For the past 11 years, Austin Gill and friends have taken over the Ingersoll Avenue bar scene on the second Saturday in December with their trusty two-wheeled machines for the past 11 years. But they’re not driving motorcycles; we’re talking big wheels, scooters, pedal cars, bikes and homemade vehicles, which fill the street during the 11th Annual Big Wheel Rally.

“Years ago, there was another Big Wheel Rally. I saw some photos, and it looked like a lot of fun,” said Austin Gill, who organized the event along with Molly Gill and Randy Kramer. “I wanted to bring the event back and add a charity aspect to it, so not only are we having fun, we’re also helping raise money for a good cause.”

All of the proceeds from the event go the Children’s Cancer Connection, which the Big Wheel Rally has been working with for 10 years.

“The first year we had people bring helmets to donate, but the second year Randy suggested donating the proceeds to the Children Cancer Connection. I found out about the charity and thought it was a great idea. We raised more than $1,200 that first year,” Gill said. “It’s a unique, local charity that supports a great cause and helps a lot of kids have some fun.”

The Rally has continued to grow every year. Last year organizers raised more than $29,000, and Gill hopes to top that with a goal of $35,000 this year.

“It’s a free event, but donations are welcome. We try to get everything handled at Zimm’s, and then we present a check to the organization before we head out to the next bar,” he said.

After the check presentation, the party moves down the street to GT Lounge from 2 to 4 p.m. Then the crowds cruise down Ingersoll to the Yacht Club until 6 p.m. The night ends with a jaunt to the Sherman Hill neighborhood, finishing at Carl’s Place.

“Not only do we stop at some great bars, we also have different genres of live music at each location,” Gill said.

Along with donations, the event also raises money by selling T-shirts (a limited quantity will be available), silent auction items and $10 raffle tickets for a variety of prizes including a four-night stay in Breckenridge, Colo. Prizes for the Best Costume and Best Big Wheel will also be awarded.

“Costumes are highly encouraged, and we have a lot of creative people who participate. We even have people that match their costume to their big wheel,” Gill said.

The crowds are large, with more than 200 people participating last year. But, as with every outdoor event taking place in December, weather is always a factor.

“We hope to draw a bigger crowd this year, but it all depends on the weather,” Gill said. “If it’s a nice day, we’ll have a bigger turnout. No matter the weather, people get fired up and then the cold or snow doesn’t bother them.”

Gill welcomes everyone to participate in the Big Wheel Rally and experience Ingersoll Avenue in a unique setting.

“The participants make each year special with all the hard work and creativity they put into their costumes and their rides,” he said. “It’s a traveling party atmosphere that offers plenty of fun and excitement. Plus, it’s a great way for adults to have fun while helping make sure a lot of kids will have fun, too.” CV



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