Things are coming together for a major Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally. It now has an official starting area and it looks like more bikers could be coming.
“At the very last minute, the mayor came through for us,” said Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS. The veterans service organization is arranging the ‘Rolling to Remember’ event, which is the successor to ‘Rolling Thunder.’
Bikers will now be allowed to use RFK Stadium’s Lot 8 for staging on May 30, before heading to the National Mall.
Chenelly said he and others were meeting with regional law enforcement agencies when the good news came in. He said he believes “law enforcement was concerned about the disruption to the community for us to be staging in the streets,” which was an alternative if no dedicated staging area was offered.
They’re now preparing for up to 100,000 bikes and up to 150,000 people on them, Chenelly said. While the estimated number of participants is increasing, the total number would still be a fraction of what Rolling Thunder drew.
He also said spectators will be discouraged along the route to the Mall, and that only people on motorcycles will be allowed in the staging area.
‘Rolling to Remember’ is meant to draw attention to those missing in action and to the ongoing mental health and suicide crisis among veterans.
‘Rolling Thunder’ was stopped because organizers said securing permits was becoming too costly and difficult.