The Rolling to Remember event in D.C. planned for Memorial Day weekend may attract 50,000 bikers, but for now it’s moving ahead without a dedicated staging area.
Organizers first asked to use a Pentagon parking lot as a staging area, but were denied due to COVID-19 concerns. The event’s predecessor, Rolling Thunder, stopped hosting the annual event because they said securing the necessary permits was becoming too difficult.
The next idea was to use RFK stadium, but Joe Chenelly, national executive director of AMVETS, which is organizing the ride, said time has run out to wait on a waiver to use the stadium.
“We really feel waiting any longer would make it impossible to communicate what we need to communicate to our demonstrators and the general public,” Chenelly said.
A waiver must be secured to use RFK if more than 500 people are expected to show up.
Chenelly said that even though the waiver has not been officially denied, his group set a deadline of May 7 to receive the waiver in order to be able to plan and get the word out to the bikers expected to attend.
Chenelly said the plan is to stage bikers along the National Mall on the morning of Sunday, May 30, before the ride. He said they are working with D.C. police on that.
Chenelly said, “We’re going to ask them not to come into the staging area until 7 a.m.”
The ride kicks off at noon, and Chenelly said they want to limit the amount of time bikers are in the staging area to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.
“We are advising everyone if they’re within 6 feet of each other or, if they are not vaccinated, they should be wearing a mask out there,” he said.
Chenelly said people coming into D.C. can expect a lot of roads near the National Mall to be closed that Sunday morning.
“It’s a big percentage of downtown D.C. that will be closed to regular traffic,” he warned.
AMVETS’ purpose for the ride is to raise awareness of the issues facing the nation’s veterans and to, according to its website, demand action for the 82,000 service members missing, as well as to raise awareness of the 22 veterans who die by suicide each day.
Official events begin May 28 and continue through Memorial Day, May 31.