URBANA — Organizers of the city of Urbana's first ever giveaway of abandoned bicycles are declaring it a spirited success.
"People were so patient when they were waiting in line. You just saw community — people talking and getting along. I wish we could see that every day," said Chelsea Angelo, the animal control and abandoned bicycle officer for Urbana.
Scores of folks, many of them with limited resources, turned out Thursday morning at the public works storage facility on Glover Avenue to take advantage of the offer.
"I would estimate we had 150 to 200 people and we gave away 72 bikes. There were only five or six that were ready to go to the trash pile but people wanted parts off them so I let them take them," Angelo said.
Folks lined up as early as 7:30 a.m. for the event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon.
A friend of Angelo's who's an avid mountain biker was on hand to give the bikes a good going over before they went out the door.
"I wanted to make sure people had safe bikes," said Keith Gower, service manager and mechanic for Cycles Plus in Danville for the last five years.
"I wished I could have donated parts but the labor that I donated was worth more than the parts the bikes needed. Everybody got brakes, lubed chains, tuned derailleurs, tightened chains and lubed cables," he said.
A friend of Gower's, Craig Johnson of Danville, also helped fix the bicycles as a gesture of good will.
Recipients were most grateful, not only for the bikes but the work they would have had to pay to have done at a bicycle shop. Even those who weren't able to get bicycles were nice about it, she said.
"We had a lot of concern that there might be fighting and arguing. It was positive the whole day. Everybody was in such a good mood," said Angelo, who confessed that the spirit of Christmas hadn't caught up with her this year until Thursday morning.
"This absolutely put me in the Christmas spirit," she said.