The annual Trail of Tears Motorcycle Ride left Riverfront Parkway Saturday morning amid the thunder of exhaust from hundreds of motorcycles. Following an opening prayer for the safety of the participants, the riders began their trek to Florence, Ala.
This event yearly attracts riders who represent a cross section of different ages, color, and gender from every part of the U.S.A. with participants from as far away as Canada. The Trail of Tears Commemorative 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. This year’s event was complicated by steady, and at times, pouring rain. But just as the original participants continued their forced trek in threatening weather conditions, the bikers who were commemorating the Trail of Tears continued their ride in conditions very dangerous to motorcycles on large group rides.
These sturdy folks once again displayed an example of how the motorcycle community is committed to supporting worthy causes throughout the communities they represent. It was 8:15 a.m. before the last bike made its exit from Riverfront Parkway, forming a double line of motorcycles that historically has 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.
Each year the proceeds from the sale of approved vendor merchandise go toward scholarships presented to needy Native American students and the placement of Trail of Tears Route road signs. 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.