|May 2000 Column||www.virtualindian.org|
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16, 1999 the Blessing of the Bikes took place once again in Baldwin, Michigan.
An estimated 14 to 15 thousand motorcycles gathered for the 27th Annual
The Weasels first gathered at the Eagles Club in Sparta for a Pancake Buffet Breakfast. After a hardy meal, a couple more riders showed up, and we were off on the 65 mile journey North. The weather was a little spooky, lots of bugs and a haze blocking out the sun. As we proceeded north we took back roads to avoid the heavy highway traffic and to enjoy the scenery. Vince Gargagliano and myself led the pack of 8 northwards. The sun slowly emerged to make a swell ride, and we encountered many bikes going north. With the usual crotch-rockets flashing by our slower-paced Indians and the usual thumbs-up from all riders, we arrived at about quarter of 11:00. As we drove into a sea of bikes, you could hear the bands playing in the distance.
The Blessing is an annual event put on by the Para-Dice Motorcycle Club. They are a Christian club, with this being one of the largest gatherings of bikes in Michigan. The airport they use is well suited for the mass of Iron gathered. The atmosphere is church-like, no beer or partying is allowed on the field. The T-shirt, patch and pin booths were kept lined up most of the day. The first Blessing was back in 1972, with 4 couples on bikes in front of the local church. By the fourth year the event moved to the airport because of the number of participants. The town of Baldwin in Lake County was chosen because it is Michigan's poorest county. Para-Dice MC raises over $10,000 from the Blessing for local ministries such as Big Brothers and Meals on Wheels. They have also purchased two wheel-chair vans for the handicapped. Club member, David, stated that last year was the biggest with over 16 thousand bikes at the Blessing, and that their club does not profit "one dime" from the event.
The town of Baldwin, north of the airport a couple miles, is packed with riders. These are the ones that party at other camps around the area, show up for the Blessing, buy their patch, pin or T-shirt, then ride back to party. There are lots of bike vendors scattered thru out the area of Baldwin, with the whole week-end centered around Father Joe's blessing at 1:00. This was Father Joe's 14th Blessing. An array of bands played Christian to Classic Rock. At the close of the sermon, the swarm of bikes revved up their motors and off they went. We waited about 45 minutes as the ponies rode North and South. The herd was very deep, and we felt the Indians might overheat on the long wait.
We rode South to White Cloud, to Curly's Bar, for super burgers, ½ lb. on an over-sized bun, lots of pitchers of beer and good conversation. The day wore on and we eventually said our good-byes and rode back to reality. I look back and think of the 8 or so Blessings I have attended, think of the nice people you meet, old friends you only see then, the cool bikes that show up, and the great country ride thru Michigan. I think I will do it again.
so Cindy's Column isn't really written by Cindy
Gargagliano this month, but as Cindy sent it, we'll just call it Cindy's
Column, OK? The "Weasels" is the interesting-sounding Road Weasels club,
by the way.