Annual 9/11 memorial ride canceled due to COVID-19

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MONTGOMERY, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — An annual 9/11 memorial ride through Lycoming County has been canceled as organizers were unable to secure a permit in line with the governor’s restrictions on large gatherings.

For the past 19 years, thousands of motorcycle riders from around the country have flocked to Lycoming County to honor the lives lost on 9/11. While this year’s event was officially canceled, many are still planning to ride on.

“It’s not about flues, and it’s not about Trump or anything like that,” Carl Orso III, a yearly participant in the memorial ride told Eyewitness News. “It’s about the people who fell on 9/11. Period. It’s a tribute, it’s a rolling memorial to them, and it’s a great thing to participate.”

Orso has been riding in the memorial for 15 years and says if smaller groups decide to pay their respects, they will do so lawfully.

“Contrary to what some of the public believes, motorcyclists are not a bunch of heathens. We are well-behaved, upstanding, tax-paying citizens and we will ride accordingly,” he said.

Tank Baird is the founder and president of the 9/11 Memorial Coalition which has organized and overseen the event since 2001. While Baird says he supports those who choose to ride, he worries about bike safety in an unregulated event.

“If they can’t get permitting and if they can’t get trained people at intersections then it’s illegal,” he said. “They can’t run, they shouldn’t run.”

Baird says he won’t fault anyone for paying tribute but cautions those participating to remember the reason they’re riding.

“If they’re going to ride, they’re going to have to obey the traffic laws, so it doesn’t reflect on future rides. And that’s pretty much it, respect the day,” Baird said.

Baird says that registration for the memorial has topped 8,000 in years past. Eyewitness News knows of at least seven unofficial rides planned throughout Lycoming County on Friday.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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