Thousands of motorcyclists will roar through Riverside and into Lake Elsinore a week from Monday for a Memorial Day tribute that will conclude with a patriotic concert at Storm Stadium.
Between 6-8 a.m. on May 27, motorcyclists taking part in the 20th annual “West Coast Thunder” will assemble outside the Riverside Harley-Davidson dealership, between Adams and Winstrom streets. The “Star Spangled Banner” will be sung and local officials will address the crowd, after which the riders will begin revving up for their roughly 40-mile journey south.
At precisely 9:11 a.m., the motorcyclists, many of them affiliated with veterans’ organizations, will head out along four- and six-lane streets to slow-roll past Riverside National Cemetery, with the Inland Empire Harley Owners-West Coast Thunder Honor Guard leading the procession, escorted by Riverside police.
Temporary road closures will be in effect along the way to accommodate the riders, some of whom will peel off at the cemetery to pay their respects.
Last year’s event drew more than 6,000 riders, according to organizers.
For a number of years, the motorcycle parade swung through Moreno Valley as a curtain-raiser to the city’s Memorial Day events, and afterward rumbled into San Jacinto for a celebration at the Soboba Casino. However, the route changed in 2018, and the riders instead headed straight to the Perris Fairgrounds via Interstate 215.
This year, the West Coast Thunder event is taking another new turn to convene final ceremonies at Storm Stadium.
The thousands of motorcyclists will head south on I-215, then transition to multiple two-lane roads via Mead Valley and Meadowbrook, west of Perris, ultimately traveling on westbound state Route 74 to reach Lake Elsinore between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
A concert featuring country music artists Randy Houser and Tucker Beathard will run until about 2:30 p.m., when prize drawings and closing remarks are planned.
A large share of the proceeds raised from the ride and show will go to the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee, which relies on donations to build monuments and make other improvements at the cemetery, where more than 200,000 U.S. military veterans, police officers, firefighters and others are interred.
More than $400,000 in donations have been made, according to Riverside Harley-Davidson, which previously did business as Skip Fordyce Harley-Davidson, founder of West Coast Thunder in 2000.