With our arrival in DC, on Sat. some of the Patriots Pack headed over to Arlington National Cemetery where each year Paco Stramaglio honors our friend Jim D’Emidio by visiting his dad who rests there.
Later, we all headed over to Thunder Ally where there were more bikes parked on the Mall of the Capital than I had ever seen. We couldn’t park anywhere near there.
After getting our shirts and patches, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our last dinner, sponsored by Clover!
Clover has been a huge part of this ride for years, donating their fourth or fifth Harley Davidson to be raffled off as part of our Ride for Jillian supporting The Jillian Fund.
Steve Noyes of Clover is from the DC area and as always, he set up an amazing “Last Supper” for the Patriots Pack riders who would be waking early to stage for Rolling Thunder, after which, they would split off and head their own directions.
The dinner was just awesome. We have gone to Cafe Milano in DC for years and they have set us up in our own room as long as I can remember, where we’re able to be a little louder, make toasts, speeches, etc. It’s like a scene out of Goodfellas, sort of, as we all walk through that nice restaurant in our biker gear in an endless parade of leather as we walk to the back, then up the stairs, all the while being greeted by every member of the staff we walk past. It’s surreal!
While The Jillian Fund founder George Gorman has joined us at this dinner each year, we had special guests that night as Jillian Fund volunteer Steph Cisne and her family joined us. Step is also one of the many many families directly helped by The Jillian Fund and you can hear them talk about it for yourself in the videos below.
It was an incredibly emotional evening. We laughed, we cried a bit and we celebrated another successful ride.
The next morning, we rose bright and early as always and made or way to the pre ride staging area at Patriots Harley in Alexandria VA. They always put on a great event with bagpipe and bands and speeches from local politicians and parades…it’s a nice start to the day.
We headed to the Pentagon parking lot, baked in the sun and rode with more bikes than I have seen at my 5 straight Rolling Thunder rides. I hear unofficial estimates are pegging it at about 1.5 million biles.
Our turn finally came and we rode through the Capital through closed streets honoring Veterans, Active Military, KIA and MIA on that Memorial Day weekend.
Mission accomplished. It was a great ride, maybe the best yet. Thanks to you all for your support. I miss you already! ~Slaw