Locals support Ride for the Troops
More than 500 people took to the roads Sunday on motorcycles for the seventh annual Ride for the Troops and many more lined the route to support the riders.
Participants ride to support the troops and their families from the area.
"It's just a good cause to put money toward the troops," said Randy Fitzgerald of Bemidji. "I ride with the Blue Knights, a local law enforcement group."
He has participated each year and will continue to ride, he said.
The 130-mile tour began with an opening ceremony in Bemidji. Riders headed southwest on County Highway 7 to Becida before heading west on County Highway 9 through Zerkel. Riders traveled south through Naytahwaush to Highway 113.
After going up County Highway 39, riders headed east on Highway 200 towards Lake Itasca.
Many local supporters greeted riders at the Lake Itasca stop, including the Park Rapids American Legion Otto Hendrickson Post 212 Color Guard.
The Color Guard just finished a busy few weeks being present at a Lloyd Hawks memorial service in Park Rapids and Memorial Day duties.
Dave Traxler, who leads the Color Guard, said members enjoy heading out to events like the Ride for the Troops.
Others with sons or daughters in the military headed to the Lake Itasca stop to show their support as well.
After that stop, the ride continued north on County Highway 2 to Shevlin before finishing on Interstate 2 back in Bemidji.
The ride started in 2005 and has grown in the last seven years. Ken Donahue and Jason Fredenburg had participated in a similar ride and wanted to organize a ride to benefit local National Guard troops.
It has become a yearly tradition.
The ride included a breakfast, lunch and a community party in the evening.
Funds raised at the event go toward local National Guard troops.