Thousands attend annual Blessing of the Bikes in Murrysville | TribLIVE.com
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Thousands attend annual Blessing of the Bikes in Murrysville

Megan Tomasic
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Megan Tomasic | Tribune-Review
People park their motorcycles at the Murrysville Alliance Church ahead of the annual Blessing of the Bikes.
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Megan Tomasic | Tribune-Review
Gage Shearer, 24, holds his 3-year-old daughter, Mia, who watches the motorcycles drive by at the annual Blessing of the Bikes.
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Megan Tomasic | Tribune-Review
Eric Aspden, 54, of Export, Dave Bulford, 63, of Washington, Pa., and Ray Stoianoff, 49, of White Valley look at motorcycles at Joey’s the Edge in Export ahead of the annual Blessing of the Bikes.
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Megan Tomasic | Tribune-Review
Don Adams, 76, of Harrison City sits at Joey’s the Edge in Export with his 13-year-old dog, Charlie, ahead of the annual Blessing of the Bikes.

Don Adams pulled his motorcycle up to Joey’s The Edge in Export on Sunday morning, his 13-year-old dog Charlie in the sidecar, bundled up in a vest.

Adams, 76, was meeting up with his friends to have coffee and donuts before the annual Blessing of the Bikes at Murrysville Alliance Church, a tradition they’ve held for about 20 years.

“It’s a nice gathering of people,” the Harrison City native said. “Motorcycle people are the best. I mean in all my life, going to different things, I never found anyone better than motorcycle people.

“They all gather down there, and it’s a nice start to the season.”

Each year, thousands of bikers come together at the church where Pastor Dan Lawrence — a motorcyclist himself — performs a short service ahead of the summer season.

Joe Ferri, owner of Joey’s The Edge, takes advantage of the event to host his own kickoff celebration for a local antique motorcycle club.

“It’s usually our first real ride of the year,” Ferri said. “And they come, and a lot of my friends come too, so there’s modern bikes and old bikes. Just camaraderie.”

Despite gloomy skies and chilly winds, several people pulled into Joey’s The Edge parking lot, discussing motorcycles and waiting to all drive over to the blessing together, many who attend the event each year.

Rob Harbaugh, 62, of Murrysville has attended Blessing of the Bikes in the past, but this was the first time he came riding his own motorcycle, a used Harley that he recently bought.

“I … wasn’t going to miss this,” he said laughing. “Got to get the new bike blessed.”

Drawing several thousand people to the church, the annual event was started 23 years ago.

Looking for a church that would allow them to show up on their bikes and wearing their leathers, Lawrence decided to host the event, eventually starting a biker ministry. According to the ministry’s website, the shared interest in motorcycles gives an opportunity for fellowship and is a way to help those who are looking for a new direction in their lives.

“Whether we have come from broken relationships, addictions, or a lack of direction in our lives, we believe that God’s intervention in our lives can give us hope, forgiveness, and a new meaning to live each day,” the site reads. “Swing your leg over the saddle, put your knees into the wind, stroke the throttle, and come ride with us. New roads may be on the horizon.”

During the event — which started with about four or five bikers — the group sings the national anthem and they honor veterans and emergency service personnel.

Sunday morning, thousands of bikes filled the church parking lot, while others lined Route 22. Thousands of people wearing leather vests representing their organizations mingled, waiting for the service to start.

Said Ferri: “He just has this event every year to get the guys together and get their heads straight a little bit about doing the right thing and sending them on this early season on the right path.”

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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