Up to 3,000 motorcyclists gathered in downtown Shelton on Sunday morning for the start of a ride to benefit Newtown charities.
Their bikes were lined up in parking lots and roads for the 11 a.m. start on Howe Avenue, with the 29.5-mile route starting by going over Bridge Street to Derby and then heading north on Route 34.
“It’s great that so many people are willing to take time out to help out people,” said Shelton resident Alan Bergers, who was watching the event with his wife Susan.
‘I’m glad Shelton played a role in this’
Biker John Tristane of Shelton was proud his hometown was hosting the beginning of the charity ride.
“This is great,” Tristane said as he prepared to ride. “It’s nice everyone here can do something for the people in Newtown. I’m glad Shelton played a role in this.”
The ride was preceded by a ceremony in the municipal parking lot near the Farmer’s Market Building, where state and local dignitaries spoke.
“Welcome to our city,” Mayor Mark Lauretti told the gathering. “As I look out over this crowd, I see the spirit of America.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal also welcomed the bikers. “You’re here because you care,” Blumenthal said. “Who is ready to ride for Newtown?”
From Maine to New Jersey
Event organizer Fred Garrity Jr. said people were participating for a reason — to help the people of Newtown, including first responders, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last December. He noted motorcycle police had come from as far away as Maine and New Jersey to lead the ride.
Garrity thanked Shelton for hosting the start of the event. “Take a deep breath,” he said at the riverfront park. “Look at the beautiful view.”
Jerry Taylor of Shelton and his three children — Christopher, Emily and Dylan — were eagerly waiting for the riders to pass by, at Bridge Street and Howe Avenue.
“It’s exciting to see tons of motorcycles,” Taylor said. “There will be lots green and white. And there will probably be some tears because of what this stands for.”