RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — One-hundred children from low- income homes were surprised with new bicycles during an event on Christmas Eve in Riviera Beach.
Cold temperatures were not enough to keep children from picking out their gifts in a 21-year-tradition in which Jupiter Realtor Rob Thomson has played Santa.
Thompson’s helper, Bishop Thomas Masters, screens and selects deserving families and then invites them to The New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church to select from dozens of unique bikes.
“I love seeing all the different bikes and then all the kids as they either run to the one that catches their eye or carefully scrutinize each feature to pick the perfect ride,” Masters, who is former mayor of Riviera Beach said. “And last year I had a woman who received a bike as a child 20 years ago thank me as she introduced her daughter who was picking out a bike for herself. That really touched me and brought the spirit of Christmas home.”
Masters is happy the tradition continues despite obstacles.
“Local children look forward each year to Rob’s generous donation,” Masters said, “and I’m so happy that it has continued for 21 years and nothing, not covid, not bicycle shortages and now not even the cold weather will keep Rob from his appointed rounds. “
Thomson owns Waterfront Properties.
“A toy is one thing but we know what it is like to get a bike,” Thompson said. “It is magically different. They get to ride them to school. Ride with their friends and it is transportation, and it is fun and exercises. There is toys and there is bikes, but nothing like a bike.”