Knights of Pythias distribute more than 100 bikes for Christmas

Clarence Monette wasn’t entirely sure how many total bikes the Knights of Pythias will end up distributing for their annual Bikes for Boys and Girls event this year.

On Dec. 17, when they set up at locations in Port St. Joe and Wewahitchka to hand the bikes out, they gave out 104. But in the days that followed, they received a few more requests.

All-in-all he thought it might end up something around 125, very close to the total number they distributed last year.

“We’re still enjoying it,” Monette said. “We still enjoy getting to put smiles on their faces and helping the parents because they’re still struggling, from the hurricane and the pandemic.”

Every year, Monette and the members of Driesbach Lodge Number 77 Knights of Pythias work with local schools to donate bicycles to children around the county who would not otherwise receive such a gift for the holidays. Candidates are determined by teachers and school guidance counselors, and the members of R.A. Driesbach, Sr. Lodge  number 77 spent months fundraising to be able to afford the children’s presents.

This year, the Knights of Pythias said that inflation was prevalent in their search for bikes. 

“Do you know what a 12 inch bike costs now?” Monette asked. “It costs $89… When we started a little over 10 years ago, it was like $29.”

Along with purchasing bicycles from funds raised throughout the year, the Knights of Pythias also receive some from Salvage Santa, a man who distributed hundreds of bikes annually based in Panama City, and from donations of gently used bicycles from the community.

Monette said that they actually purchased a little over 80 bicycles this year.

This year’s event was dedicated to John Crosby, a longtime member of the Knights of Pythias and the lodge’s Pythian of the Year for 2022, who passed away on Friday, Dec. 16.

Crosby was known to be an active member of the group and an enthusiastic participant in their activities, including the Bikes for Boys and Girls event and fundraiser. His services were held on Christmas Eve.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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