On December 6, the men of Empire City Motorcycle Club held their 51st Annual Holiday Party and Toy Drive at New York City's landmark Stonewall Inn. The packed wall-to-wall event featured food, drinks, holiday Jell-o shots, music, raffle prizes, and—best of all—lots of Leathermen! Representatives from Long Island Ravens Motorcycle Club, ONYX Northeast, Excelsior Motorcycle Club, Iron Guard Brotherhood Club, and Pennsylvania’s Bucks Motorcycle Club and Pocono Warriors were present. As the festivities took place, the attendees were treated to a photo and video retrospective of the Empire City riding fraternity's fascinating history—from black and white vintage snapshots of "the early days" all the way to the high resolution living color of 2014.
The beneficiary of the Drive was Leake & Watts, a child care agency committed to helping society's most vulnerable and at-risk children and families. Empire City MC Secretary and Past President Chaz Antonelli told me about his club's affinity for Leake & Watts: "In the early ‘80s, there was a special division of Leake & Watts called 'Leake & Watts Specialized Child Care.' They were the first—and for the longest time, the ONLY—foster care/orphanage to accept children with HIV/AIDS. These kids with HIV in the ‘80s had a tough time. Often, both parents had died from the disease long before the child got to know them ... and the next thing they knew, they too were getting sick. Leake & Watts was there to help and support them, and in turn, we were there with our toy drive to help them brighten their holidays. I'm happy to say that L&W Specialized Child Care is no more—everything is under one roof now, because they haven't had intake of any HIV+ children in over five years. That does not mean the need for toys and clothing for the children is gone, so we keep supporting them year after year." Speaking of toys, the event was VERY successful, as evidenced from the heaping mountain of both boys' and girls' toys that were donated that evening.
Empire City Motorcycle Club, Inc. of New York City was founded by a group of twelve motorcycle riders in October 1964 as a motorcycle owner/rider club. It is the oldest ongoing gay all-riding organization in the country, and a vital part of the Leather and GLBT community in the New York City metropolitan area. For more information on the Club and its year-round schedule of social and charitable events, visit www.EmpireCityMC.com.