ELKHART — Touchdown Jesus has come between Elkhart Bike Night and the annual Riding to Remember motorcycle outing this year.
Because of the highly anticipated nighttime home football game between Notre Dame and Michigan on Sept. 6, organizers of the two bike events decided to straddle their activities around game day.
As a result, motorcycle-loving law enforcement will host Elkhart Bike Night on Friday, Sept. 5, and the 16th annual “Riding to Remember” cycle ride on Sunday, Sept. 7.
“We’re not going to compete with the Notre Dame game, it’s just ludicrous to try,” said James Ballard, an officer with the Elkhart Police Department and president of Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Indiana Chapter 8, which is organizing the events.
Elkhart Bike Night
Elkhart Bike Night will be at Central Park from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, and activities will cover much of the area around Civic Plaza.
Food and beverages will be available to purchase and music will be provided by the local band, Smash Kings.
South Main Street from Lexington Avenue to Franklin Street will be closed to traffic and serve as a massive motorcycle parking lot.
Riding to Remember
On Sunday, the 72-mile motorcycle ride through much of Elkhart County will begin at 2:30 p.m. at Hoosier Harley Davidson, 720 W. Bristol St,, Elkhart.
Scroll down to read the press release and find detailed instructions for the route.
Donations of $20 for single riders or $30 for a rider and passenger are expected. Pre-registration at Hoosier Harley Davidson and North End Cycle, 2426 Cassopolis St., Elkhart, concludes Saturday, Aug. 30, but registration will continue on the day of the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hoosier Harley Davidson.
A memorial service honoring police, firefighters and military personnel will take place at Central Park at about 4:30 p.m. as cycle riders return from the ride.
Also part of that service will be a “welcome home” celebration for Vietnam veterans, Ballard said.
A free performance by the band Rumble Strip will follow the memorial service.
For the bike ride, part of High Street and Waterfall Drive will be closed to traffic and serve as a parking lot for motorcyclists, Ballard said.
The best place for parking cars, he said, is in the parking garage behind the police department.
The charity ride will benefit “Jesse’s Warriors,” a non-profit group formed after the death of Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, an Elkhart man who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in December, 2013.
Jesse’s Warriors sends care packages to servicemen that includes typical hygiene items not provided by the military, plus snacks and phone cards, Ballard said.
Jesse’s Warriors held its own motorcycle ride benefit in mid-June and Ballard said he was impressed.
“That charity is near and dear to our hearts,” Ballard said. “I saw what they do locally as far as raising donations and sending items to the troops overseas and I like what they do.”
Organizers choose a different charity each year, he said.
Last year, they raised about $10,000 for various charities chosen by the Blue Knights and Axemen firefighters motorcycle clubs. A year earlier, they raised more than $20,000 for Wounded Warriors.
The Blue Knights Indiana Chapter 8 Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club includes police from various Elkhart county police agencies as well as St. Joseph County, Marshall County and Cass County in Michigan.
To learn more about the event, go to the group’s Facebook page by searching “Elkhart Bike Night & Riding to Remember.“
"Riding to Remember" map by jclee89