Patriotism probably never sounded so loud.
On Sunday afternoon, the deafening roar of over 900 revved up motorcycles thundered out of Darrough Chapel Park during the 10th annual Ride for the Troops as motorcyclists embarked on a 75-mile journey to honor America’s military.
“Look at all these bikes,” said Nick Laffredo, a member of the VFW Riders Post 1152, gazing out over the park packed with riders. “It’s unreal.”
For nearly 20 minutes, bikers dressed in leather wearing red, white and blue bandanas and top hats streamed from Darrough Chapel Park to begin their jaunt through Kokomo, Tipton, Elwood and Greentown.
“This shows how many people are out there that care about our troops,” said Larry Huffer, 71.
Huffer said he served in the Army from 1965 to 1967. It was his fourth time at Ride for the Troops, and he said it’s an inspiration to his two grandchildren, who serve in the Navy and Coast Guard.
Tammy Gilbert, an organizer of the event, said that’s what the annual trek is all about — showing veterans and active members of the military they are not forgotten.
“Our objective is to get people to stop and think of our troops and our veterans,” she said as bikers milled around admiring motorcycles before hitting the road. “We want people to thank them and remember them and appreciate what they do. As soon as we put up that first flyer and people stop to remember their service, our goal is met.”
And the message of Ride for the Troops has received an national audience. Gilbert said video recordings of the event have been played on a U.S. submarine and to troops coming back from an overseas mission.
Although the over 900 bikers wasn’t the biggest turnout, she said it was pretty good considering the cool temperatures and threat of rain.
Gilbert added the support from bystanders cheering the bikers along the route was also great this year. Some held photos of their sons and brothers serving in the military while others waved flags and applauded.
“The communities always come out to make a good impression on the riders,” she said.
Tricia Nestleroad, a member of American Legion Riders Post 60 in Logansport and a first-timer to the event, said it was an honor and privilege to cruise through Kokomo and the other towns on her motorcycle.
“Whether you agree with what they’re doing or not, they’re overseas doing their job and serving our county,” she said. “We should appreciate them and show it anyway we can.”
Patricia Baker, 70, a member of Post 60, agreed.
“This is awesome,” said Baker. “I just feel honored to be sitting here.”
Although people express their patriotism in different ways, Nestleroad said there’s just something special about the high-octane way Ride for the Troops celebrates those serving the nation.
“Nothing says U.S.A. like a Harley,” she said.
• Carson Gerber, Tribune reporter, may be reached by calling 765-854-6739 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.