Harley-Davidson raffles decorated Christmas trees for a good cause

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Genevieve DiNatale @GenevieveDNWFDN

FORT WALTON BEACH — Motorcycle aficionados had the chance to win a fully decorated Christmas tree Thursday at Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson’s first Crusin’ into Christmas-Festival of Trees event.

The proceeds of the raffle, which was hosted by Harley-Davidson and The Blue Knights law enforcement motorcycle club, will go to Safe Connections, a nonprofit organization that provides supervised visitation for children affected by domestic violence.

“This event was our first of what we hope to be an annual event,” said Sharon Rogers, Safe Connections’ executive director.  “I think it was a huge success, and the money will go a long way to allowing us to protect the children in Okaloosa and Walton counties.”

About 100 people gathered in the Harley-Davidson showroom on Beal Parkway on Thursday evening, where a dinner buffet was set among motorcycles spinning on their displays. Visitors listened to Three Bean Soup, a local father-daughter acoustic cover band and guest speaker Veronia Perez, a domestic abuse survivor who used Safe Connections in a time of need.

“My son was an infant and everything fell apart when he was 8 weeks old, and I was terrified about how I was going to handle this situation with an infant, and Sharon and her staff made me feel safe and my children, and that’s something that’s invaluable. The setting is truly comfortable; it’s like a homelike setting,” Perez said as the guests dined.

Guests took their raffle tickets and dropped them into a bucket on a white pole next to the tree of their choice. Each tree had a different theme and sponsor.

The Christmas trees were labeled as follows: 

“Natural Charm,” sponsored by Ben and Amanda Gordon

“Christmas Spirit,” sponsored by Cadenhead Pest Control

“Candy Land,” sponsored  by Safe Connections

“Born to Ride,” sponsored by Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson

“God Bless America,” sponsored by Richard Horn and Sharon Rogers

“Blue Knights,” sponsored by Blue Knights Motorcycle Club

“Beach Life,” sponsored by National Elevator Systems

“I think it was a lot of fun,” Rogers said after posing in front of the Christmas tree sponsored by Harley-Davidson with its raffle winner, Michelle Packham of Niceville.

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