At least 100 motorcycle riders will again make a 40-mile parade Tuesday from Orange County to Long Beach in honor of September 11, 2001 terrorist victims, led by founder and Belmont Heights fireman Gary Biggerstaff.
At the head of the ride will be a vintage fire truck driven by Belmont Heights resident Bob Blair, and all the riders--including mostly Southern California firefighters--will be riding as private citizens, Biggerstaff and others said Monday.
The two-wheel tribute is a moving spectacle that finds people flocking to the roadside to cheer on the riders. Last year, hundreds of motorists joined the parade itself. The route (see attached screen shot) starts at 3:15 p.m. at Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon and ends a few hours later at the Gaslamp Restaurant and Bar, 6251 Pacific Coast Highway, in Long Beach.
The celebrated 9/11 Motorcycle Remembrance Ride that drew more than 1,000 riders to its two-county parade last year was so large as to require an event planning company and cost $8,000 just for city permits, Biggerstaff said. A dispute with the event company led him to keep it simpler and low-key today, Tuesday.
Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Rich Brandt will also be on the ride, which he said is about honoring "our fallen brothers."
Tthe first parade was on Sept. 11, 2003.
"It was sort of born at the fire station lunch table on Sept. 10," recalled Biggerstaff, a Long Beach firefighter who visited Ground Zero in New York City after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. He was overwhelmed. Thousands died in the ruins he was seeing, including hundreds of first responders.
"Initially it was gonna be a dozen of us riding that year. In 24 hours it blossomed into 50. Last year we had a thousand registered riders and another 400 who joined in the parade along the way," Biggerstaff said.
"I'm carrying on the tradition. After Sept. 11, this country came together wth all this patriotism and this good feeling."
This year's ride isn't likely be nearly as large as last year's 10th anniversary commemoration, which took place on a Sunday. The huge size was a profound sight to some, but caused some complaints to Laguna Beach city officials from people whose cars were blocked as the massive parade of motorcycles wound its way through Laguna Canyon and onto Coast Highway on its way to Long Beach. (Click here for video of last year's parade as it went through Laguna Beach.)
According to the organizer's Facebook page, the ride route will begin at Cook's Corner at 3:15 p.m., then proceed over the 241 toll road onto the 133. It turns south on Pacific Coast Highway and travels through the Orange County beach cities of Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, and Seal Beach. Going by estimates from last year's ride, the cyclists should reach the halfway point of Laguna Beach sometime between 3:50 and 4:10 p.m, and to Long Beach by about 5:30 p.m.
Check back here during the day for updates.