Dozens of motorcycle riders come out for Blessing of the Bikes in Leechburg
One by one, motorcycles roared into the parking lot at Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company on Sunday, despite the gray skies and drizzling rain.
“I was happily surprised to see a good turnout,” said Raymond Zekier, co-coordinator of the annual Blessing of the Bikes hosted by Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church.
Zekier, a biker since his teenage years, now rides with the Masonic group Widows Sons, founded in 1999 to perform charity work across the country.
He was among more than 40 bikers who turned out for the sixth annual event in Leechburg, held the first weekend of May to pray for a safe riding season.
The tradition of bike blessing started in New York City in 1999 with a mass gathering at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
It has grown to include gatherings across the country, like the one on April 28 at Murrysville Alliance Church.
“Riders are subject to danger,” said the Rev. Gary Lyon, co-pastor at Cross Roads and a firefighter with the Leechburg VFC.
An avid motorcyclist himself, Lyon said he uses the blessing to pray for safe roads, smooth riding and good weather.
“These are the die-hards here that turn out every year,” Lyon told the crowd, gathered in the fire hall to avoid the rain.
“You are driven to succeed. And in order to do that, you get out on the highways of life.”
Organizer Alisha Schall said she was grateful to see the bikes rolling in every year.
“I think it’s rained four out of the six years we’ve done this,” she said, laughing. “Last year, snow was flying around. Still, they show up.”
Lyon said more than $13,000 has been raised over the past five years through donations, T-shirt sales and raffle baskets.
In its fledgling years, proceeds helped offset costs of the fire company’s new ladder truck.
Now, money is distributed to several outreach missions by the church, as well as fire department operations.
Connie Kuniak of Gilpin and Robin Johns of West Leechburg mingled with others after the blessing. They said the event is as much a social gathering as a prayer service.
“It’s my fourth year coming out,” Kuniak said. “I like to be out here with all the bikers.”
Johns added, “I like hanging out with my fellow riders.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .