An annual Memorial Day ride that started 20 years ago involving thousands of motorcyclists who roared through Riverside and other areas will not be taking place next week because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a difficult but necessary step,” according to the West Coast Thunder Foundation. “West Coast Thunder No. 21 (is planned) next year on Memorial Day, May 31, 2021 … Stay safe, and stay healthy.”
The ride generally attracts upwards of 6,000 motorcyclists, who depart Riverside Harley-Davidson on Indiana Avenue at precisely 9:11 a.m., then swing by Riverside National Cemetery before turning south. In the past, riders have rendezvoused for a finale barbecue and musical celebration at the Soboba Casino or Perris Fairgrounds.
Elected officials often take part, and Riverside police and California Highway Patrol units provide escorts.
In Riverside, throngs of people in the past have lined Alessandro Boulevard to cheer as the riders pass.
A large share of proceeds raised from the rides and musical shows are donated to the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee, which relies on contributions to build monuments and make other improvements at the burial site, where more than 250,000 U.S. military veterans, police officers, firefighters and others are interred.
Despite the ride being nixed this year, organizers said $35,000 has been raised, and those funds will be directed to the cemetery committee in honor of “the brave service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”
Nearly $500,000 in donations have been generated over the last two decades, according to the West Coast Thunder Foundation.
The rides were first organized in 2000 by Skip Fordyce Harley-Davidson, which became Riverside Harley-Davidson several years ago.
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