(Please note: This story has been updated with a larger number of riders than had originally been estimated by organizers for Sunday’s ride. Also, a slideshow has been added.)
A storm of motorcycles rumbled through Newtown from Shelton, on their way top Trumbull Sunday, May 5. Approximately 2,300 bikes took more than 30 minutes to pass by on the Green Ribbon Ride (riding to remember and honor Newtown’s 26 angels) sponsored by Newtown’s five fire companies. Tickets cost $20 per person to join the ride, with proceeds being paid out directly to children’s charities, the 26 Sandy Hook families, Newtown funds supporting survivors, the EMS, fire departments, police union, Al’s Angels, and the Center for Women & Families.
Downtown Shelton shut down traffic access Sunday morning as riders from as far away as Massachusetts gathered around a central green and lined up on side streets waiting to be on their way on a cool but bright spring day. Central Mass. Law Enforcementt Council members leaned their bikes along Howe Avenue overlooking a parking lot quickly filling with motorcycles. Michelle and Glen Green wove through the growing crowd greeting friends, including Becky and Stephen Kowalski, parents of 12/14 victim Chase Kowalski.
With Newtown fire company members gathering near a central stage 99.1 WPLR’s radio personalities Chaz and AJ asked, “Are you ready for the historic ride?”
“Out of every tragedy comes an equal act of beauty,” said Chaz, who then thanked the first responders and introduced Ride Director Fred Garrity Jr.
Mentioning the many emotions the day evoked, Mr Garrity said, “We’re here for a reason.” Behind him, Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company Chief Anthony Capozziello shared the stage with another ride coordinator, Greg Gnandt, and officials including Senator Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General George Jepson, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti.
“I see the spirit of America," said Mr Lauretti. “What you are doing today speaks volumes to the backbone of this country.”
Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst noted resilience in the face of tragedy, and welcomed riders to his town where they would gather hours later for food, free entertainment, and more at Westfield Shopping Mall.
Mr Capozziello addressed the crowd: “Newtown is grateful for the support,” saying the large turnout was “heartwarming.”
Attorney General Jepson was “honored to share in this important day.” He also mentioned that when he wakes up each day, he knows what he will face, unlike first responders. His days are “routine,” he said, while they face situations such as 12/14.
“Our hearts are broken,” Ms Esty said, but the presence in Shelton on Sunday wass “proof that this country is a wonderful place.” Minutes before the ride, which brought motorcycles through Newtown on Route 34, up Wasserman Way, and along Route 25 into Trumbull, she said, “Ride strong with hearts full of love.”
Senator Blumenthal said he was “proud to be here today,” and he spoke of the first responders who “showed us the good.” He wished participants a “great ride, be safe, God bless.”
Streets along the ride route, blocked to through traffic by state and local police, were lined with residents waving flags and signs, and cheering as thousands of bikes and riders flashed past.
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