Approximately 5,500 drivers and passengers on 4,000 motorcycles are expected to participate in the seventh annual Minnesota Patriot Ride scheduled for Saturday, June 16.
Ham Lake Lions Park will be the host site for the third year in a row. The park is located at 1220 157th Ave. N.E., which is not too far west of Highway 65 and on the south side of 157th Avenue.
If you pre-register by midnight on Thursday, June 14, the cost is $25 per rider. If you register after that, including on the day of the event, the cost is $35. The fee for a passenger on your motorcycle is $10.
To pre-register or to find more information, visit www.thepatriotride.org. Registration at Ham Lake Lions Park starts at 9 a.m. June 16 and ends at 11:30 a.m.
There will be a 10 a.m. ceremony at the park featuring the Canadian Vietnam veterans placing a single wreath to honor the 121 Canadians that were killed in Vietnam while serving with the U.S. Armed Forces, including seven missing in action service members. A trumpeter will play “Last Post,” which is the bugle call played in the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth nations like Canada.
Bikers will leave Ham Lake Lions Park at noon and head north to the Armed Forces Reserve Community Center in Cambridge for a break before heading back to Ham Lake for a post-ride ceremony. Law enforcement officers and soldiers will be posted at various corners to inform motorists about the reason for the traffic delays. Be aware that there is usually a lengthy delay if you are waiting to cross a road that the bikers are on.
The total route that goes through northern Anoka County and southern Isanti County is about 60 miles. People along the route are encouraged to come outside to waive at the riders as they drive by.
There will be a special post-ride ceremony starting at 5 p.m., according to Doug Bley, president of the Minnesota Patriot Guard, which organizes the Patriot Ride.
The keynote speaker is Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, who is responsible for Naval Special Warfare Command. He’s a career Naval Special Warfare SEAL officer who has received awards such as the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Meritorius Service Medal.
An “every day soldier” will also speak during the post-ride ceremony, Bley said. Gold Star families who lost a son or daughter will release balloons to honor the memory of their children.
The Wild Hawg Band will provide musical entertainment at the park after the post-ride ceremony concludes.
There will be numerous displays throughout the day at the park including a Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall, an honor wall of those lost in Minnesota and neighboring areas, a display of prisoner of war (POW) license plates from all 50 states and a static Blackhawk helicopter display.
Who the ride helps
Proceeds from the Patriot Ride are split between the Minnesota Patriot Guard and the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund (MMAF). In its first six years, the Patriot Ride has netted slightly under $700,000.
The Minnesota Patriot Guard was founded in 2006. MMAF started its mission in August 2005. The goal of both organizations is to help service members and their families.
Patriot Guard members ride their motorcycles in front of buses carrying troops returning home. They also will serve as the flag line for funeral processions.
The Patriot Guard has donated to organizations such as the Bryan McDonough Military Heroes Foundation, the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp of Minnesota, Flags for Fallen Military, Minnesota Veterans Family Support and the Tribute to the Troops’ Education Fund. The Patriot Guard has its own program, Help on the Homefront, to assist the families of deployed soldiers.
Since its inception in August 2005, MMAF has provided over $8 million in grants to more than 13,000 recipients. It gives $5,000 to the families of fallen soldiers, between $2,000 and $10,000 to a service member who was wounded in combat and $500 to a veteran who served in a combat zone. The veteran had to have served in a combat zone after September 2001.
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com