The West Coast Thunder fundraiser is gearing up for its Memorial Day ride.
Scott Wilson and Tim Davis of Wilson Associates organized a golf tournament for the benefit of the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee, through West Coast Thunder at General Old Golf Course, on Feb. 5. This charity event netted a $7,621.15 check for the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee.
What began 13 years ago, as a few hundred bikes gathering together in front of Skip Fordyce Harley-Davidson in Riverside, riding, parade fashion, to the Riverside National Cemetery, now attracts an estimated 5,500 to 7,000 motorcycles each year.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, organizers now begin the motorcade promptly at 9:11 a.m. each year. The Riverside Police Department and a Vietnam vintage Huey helicopter escort the parade. The color guard carrying the American flag, service flags, POW/MIA and other commemorative flags lead this processional with city and county officials and other dignitaries riding in convertibles, followed by thousands of motorcycles.
All proceeds from the ride raises money for the benefit the Riverside National Cemetery Support Committee. West Coast Thunder has been the major contributor of more than $350,000 to the cemetery. Completed projects include construction of the National POW/MIA Memorial (dedicated in 2005), repairs to the National Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial, financial support to the cemetery’s Memorial Honor Detail, and funding each July of the “Concert for Heroes.”
These financial gifts have also funded cemetery projects that include purchasing flower cones in honor of indigent and unaccompanied, homeless veterans buried each month with the placement of a bouquet of flowers and an American flag on their grave.
Each year thousands of local and nearby area residents line the streets with their families, dogs, lawn chairs and wave American and service flags, cheering the motorcycles as they roar down the parade route.
The West Coast Thunder event does not end at the cemetery, as the riders proceed to the Soboba Hotel and Casino for a musical tribute to veterans. This year, Uncle Kracker is the headliner of the show with The Farm paving the way.
Residents don’t have to ride a motorcycle to be a part of this event. They may watch from the parade route and at Riverside National Cemetery, and/or drive out to Soboba Casino and enjoy the show. Concert tickets are available at the door for $40.
Registration and information: westcoastthunder.com