An estimated 3,000 attend Sunday's Blessing of the Bikes BALDWIN \u2013 Despite inclement weather throughout much of last week and into the weekend, thousands still attended the 42nd annual Blessing of the Bikes on Sunday in Baldwin. Throughout the weekend, riders and visitors flocked to the village to join in the festivities, which begin Friday, and culminated Sunday at the Baldwin Municipal Airport. It\u2019s estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 people were in attendance for Sunday\u2019s blessing, said Mark Bird, president of Para-Dice Motorcycle Club, which organizes the event. \u201cWe had bad weather to start, but today has been a glorious day,\u201d Bird said. \u201cWe\u2019ve really been happy.\u201d The airport gates opened at 9 a.m. on Sunday while the actual blessing took place at approximately 1 p.m. A donation request of $5 for each bike entering the blessing and $3 for each walk in was requested by Para-Dice Motorcycle Club to attend. All of the money collected at the gate, minus expenses, will be donated to St. Ann\u2019s Lake County Senior Services for its meals program. Additionally, 16 nonprofit organizations were at the airport to help raise money for their organizations. While the Blessing of the Bikes hopes to be a blessing to Lake County, it also hopes to bless motorcycle riders in attendance. \u201c(The blessing) is really about the start of the riding season, to have the knowledge that there is someone other than ourselves that is looking over us,\u201d Bird said. \u201cIt brings the people together for the start of the riding season to reiterate to be careful, look out for others and to pay it forward.\u201d Before the program began, Para-Dice Motorcycle Club handed out awards to notable attendees in the crowd. At 95 years old, Claude Osmun was named the oldest driver in attendance. Originally from Grand Rapids, Osmun now lives in Florida, but summers on Brooks Lake in Newaygo County. He started riding motorcycles in 1935, and estimates he has attended 20 Blessing of the Bikes in his lifetime. When asked why he continues to attend the Blessing of the Bikes, Osmun said, \u201cI love to ride,\u201d while smiling. Waterman, Ill. resident Dave Duriavich was awarded for traveling the furthest distance to attend the blessing, 315 miles. When Duriavich, 54, left on Friday, it was snowing. The rest of the six-hour ride was rainy and \u201ccrappy\u201d until he reached Holland, but that didn\u2019t stop him from attending his fourth Blessing of the Bikes. \u201cI\u2019ve got friends that come here, and it\u2019s just a good event,\u201d Duriavich said. \u201cYou get your karma going; it\u2019s the first step in getting your karma going for the upcoming season.\u201d Other award recipients included Dorothy Arlt, 76, who was named the oldest passenger; John Church, whose 1939 motorcycle was named oldest bike; April McAlpine, 18, who was named the youngest driver; and Josiah, 3 weeks old, who was named the youngest passenger. Following the awards, Medal of Honor recipient Duane E. Dewey was presented with a Purple Heart Plaque by We The People Giving Back, an organization dedicated to honoring veterans, Gold Star families and fallen police, fire and EMS personnel. Dewey was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Eisenhower for bravery in Korea. Sunday\u2019s Purple Heart Plaque was presented to Dewey in recognition of his service. Following the presentation, music was provided before Father Ron Schneider, of St. Ann\u2019s-St. Ignatius Church in Baldwin, offered his blessing to those in attendance. \u201cIt\u2019s not very often you get this type of numbers gathered for a time of prayer together; to receive a blessing, to be a blessing,\u201d Schneider said. \u201cWe know that they come from many places, so many of them year after year. They come to this place to reach out with their care, with their love, with their generosity for the people of this area, for the people of this community, especially for our senior citizens. We give you thanks and praise for that.\u201d Schneider then thanked those riders who visited residents of Grand Oaks Nursing Center on Saturday, and mentioned how happy it made the residents. In closing, Schneider asked God to place an angel with each rider to watch over them and keep them safe. \u201cWe ask you to be with them,\u201d Schneider said. \u201cWe ask you in a very special way to bless them and keep them safe, to watch over them for whatever need they may have.\u201d Throughout the weekend, riders and visitors to Lake County enjoyed downtown Baldwin\u2019s marketplace, which featured 30 vendors selling unique items, as well as the various specials and deals local businesses offered throughout the weekend. Amber Pomerleau, of Grand Haven, has attended the Blessing of the Bikes for four years. She comes to the event because it is a ritual her and her husband do not want to miss. \u201cIt\u2019s awesome, there\u2019s motorcycles everywhere,\u201d Pomerleau said. \u201cIt\u2019s one of the coolest events that I think I have been to. I have never been to a real motorcycle event since we moved to Michigan, so this is pretty cool.\u201d Although this year\u2019s donations have not been tallied yet, organizers estimated the blessing raised nearly $15,000 last year for St. Ann\u2019s Lake County Senior Services. In years past, it has been estimated that more than 40,000 people travel to the area for the weekend celebration. A Michigan State University study completed several years ago reported that roughly $2 million was spent within a 50-mile radius of Baldwin.