by Eric Olsen
Last weekend there was a Blessing of Bikes at both our own Eastside Harley Davidson and Emerald City where many Black Sheep and CMA riders have the opportunity to sponsor and serve our motorcycle community. I wanted to take a few minutes to look at where this idea started, what it is today, and how being a blessing is a universal part of any community.
From my research, the Blessing of Bikes started in the third weekend in May, 1972 by Rev. Fr. Dave Hawley, a priest at the St. Ann Catholic Church in Baldwin, Michigan. Father Dave was community minded and created services for seniors, which formed into St. Ann Senior Center that runs to this day. The historical account stated “Father Dave worked with a motorcycle group from Grand Rapids (Para-Dice Motorcycle Club) to begin Blessing of the Bikes.”
With the first Blessing of the Bikes inaugurated in 1972, eight riders and four motorcycles met at St. Ann’s church - the celebration’s main purpose to offer a blessing for a safe riding season for bikers. Proceeds from the annual event went to St. Ann’s outreaches for seniors, which continued through Hawley’s time at St. Ann’s to the priest who succeeded him, Ray Bruck in 1979, and decades beyond.
The festival became better known and bigger through the years, and continues to draw big crowds to Baldwin, from all over. Lake County Chamber of Commerce is the No. 1 promoter and supporter of the festival, and works hard with Para-Dice Motorcycle Club, the village of Baldwin, Lake County Sheriff's Office, fire departments, Michigan DOT, and many other groups to make the event a continual success, according to the LCCC website.
In recent years, proceeds at the gate now benefit Duane E. Dewey AMVETS Post 1988 in support of veterans.
As of last night, the event’s Facebook page had 1.1K going and 4.5K interested in this year. We will likely have significantly less folks, locally, rolling through the 2 dealerships today. However, everyone who does will receive a prayer of blessing for a safe riding season and any other requests that may be made known. We are NOT doing this as a fundraiser, so no donations are accepted. But we ARE doing this as an honored tradition in the biker world and to unite with our community in a special way. As people of faith, we are honored every time we have the chance to pray for any one of our family.
Dictionary.com lists a couple of different definitions for the word blessing that are applicable to what we are doing.
- a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
- the invoking of God's favor upon a person
Our HOG community contains many different people with varying backgrounds and life stories. But we come together over what we have in common, our love of riding. And in our community, we take care of each other by having safety directors, leads, sweeps, classes, and other activities to benefit those in our community. There are gifted and generous people that give to our community by being on the board, and putting together great events that strengthen and grow our family. And when people in our group have a rough patch, as life seems to deal out on occasion, we bless each other with kindness and support.
Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Today, I encourage each of you to make a point of offering your own blessing to another person. It might be here in our HOG group, or somewhere else, but try to do a little something to refresh others as the scripture says. You will find that it will be mutually beneficial and a great daily principle to live by.