The annual Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride left Riverfront Parkway Saturday morning
amid the thunder of exhaust from thousands of motorcycles. Following an opening prayer
for the safety of the participants and the well-being of the bikes, Mayor Ron Littlefield spoke
briefly to welcome the participants to Chattanooga and to thank them for their selfless
efforts on behalf of others.
This event attracts riders who represent a cross section of different ages, color, and gender, from every part of the USA with participants from as far away as Canada.
The Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride originated in Chattanooga in 1994 and has become what is claimed to be the largest organized motorcycle ride in the world.
The riders began to pull out at 8 a.m. with an impressive group of Chattanooga and Florence motorcycle policemen as their escorts. It was 8:30 before the last bike made its exit from Riverfront Parkway, forming a double line of motorcycles that at that point stretched out approximately 30 miles along Highway 41 to Jasper.
The Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride was the brainchild of Bill Cason in 1994 to raise public awareness about one of the Trail of Tears routes that ran from Ross’s Landing in Chattanooga to
Waterloo, Ala. The first ride was led by Bill, as has been the case each year since. The segment of the ride beginning in Chattanooga traverses the route to Waterloo, but those who elect may continue to Oklahoma.
Each year the proceeds from the sale of approved vendor merchandise go toward the placement of Trail of Tears Route road signs as well as scholarships presented to needy Native American students. According to the ride leaders, each local county along the route has been very supportive of the effort by making their police resources available at the time the massive number of bikes pass through.
The economic impact of the ride is significant in the cities where participants spend the night, as well as other communities where the thousands of bikers stop for fuel and food.