City News Service

Motorcyclists Honor Vets in Memorial Day Ride

Thousands of motorcyclists roared through Riverside and into Lake Elsinore Monday for a Memorial Day tribute that concluded with a patriotic concert at Storm Stadium.

The 20th annual "West Coast Thunder" began at 8 a.m. outside Riverside Harley-Davidson, 7688 Indiana Ave.

Last year's event drew more than 6,000 riders, according to organizers.

Between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., motorcyclists assembled around the dealership, between Adams and Winstrom streets, where the "Star Spangled Banner" was sung and local officials addressed the crowd, after which the riders began revving up for their roughly 40-mile journey south.

At precisely 9:11 a.m., the motorcyclists, many of them affiliated with veterans' organizations, headed 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 were in effect along the way to accommodate the riders, some of whom will peel off at the cemetery to pay their respects.

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 took another new turn to convene final ceremonies at Storm Stadium.

The thousands of motorcyclists headed 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 ran until about 2:30 p.m., when prize drawings and closing remarks were planned, according to organizers.

A large share of the proceeds raised from the ride and show went 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 from the annual rides, according to Riverside Harley-Davidson, which previously did business as Skip Fordyce Harley-Davidson, founder of West Coast Thunder in 2000.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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