Blessings for the riding season
BALDWIN — Thousands of bikes roared into Baldwin throughout the weekend during the 46th annual Blessing of the Bikes. Bikers gathered to enjoy camaraderie, live music, vendors, small town charm, scenic forests and lakes and to support a good cause.
On Sunday afternoon, an estimated 3,000 bikes gathered at Baldwin Municipal Airport to receive a blessing from the Rev. John Gooch, of Grand Rapids.
“We bless these bikers and we bless the machines they are on,” Gooch said, as he prayed for a safe and enjoyable riding season. “Father God, we thank You for the freedom we have to go out on the road and enjoy the wind, to see the eagles and to ride in the coolness of the evening with moon to light our paths.”
Organized by Para-Dice Motorcycle Club in Grand Rapids, the proceeds for this year’s Blessing will benefit AMVETS Post No. 1988 in Baldwin.
Nonprofit groups set up vendors at the airport to raise money during the Blessing on Sunday.
“We sold out of about everything,” said Don Arquette, of Knights of Columbus, selling kielbasa sandwiches and pirogies.
The Baldwin Fire Department set up a fire tower for guests to view the field of bikes.
“The donations from the tower go toward our fire department,” said Baldwin Fire Chief Jeremy Anderson. “There has been a pretty good turnout, better than last year’s. Good weather helps.”
Area law enforcement and firefighters worked together throughout the weekend to provide traffic control and close off several blocks downtown for the event.
“The Blessing weekend was a great success,” said Sheriff Rich Martin. “Traditionally, Saturday night between 6 to 9 p.m., we shut down two blocks of M-37 in the main downtown Baldwin business district, leaving it open for motorcycles to park down the center of the road. Primary traffic is then rerouted around the village. This increases the level of safety for all visitors and riders. This year, I extended the area of closure to five blocks, starting from 10th Street down to Sixth Street, while also starting the road closure time to 2 p.m., due to a scheduled 4 p.m. concert.
“As we found out with the large influx of event participants this year, it would have been nearly impossible for all of the motorcycles to safely park in the roadway if we would have only closed the two blocks as the year before. This was only made possible by the assistance of almost every fire department in Lake County. This year, pulling our resources together and working collectively provided professional and efficient services for all attendees and increased the overall enjoyment and safety for the entire event.”
The following departments assisted during the festival: Baldwin Fire Department, Pleasant Plains Township Fire Department, Yates Township Fire Department, Webber Township Fire Department, Carr Settlement Fire Department, Luther Fire Department and Lake Township Fire Department.