Motorcycles by the thousands streamed into the Key Air facility at Anoka County Airport as a record turnout showed up for the 2016 Patriot Ride.
They flowed into Key Air Anoka County Airport by the thousands, flags mounted on their motorcycles whipping in the wind and a love for our country and military members in their hearts. On a sparkling Minnesota summer day, they came to honor the fallen, to herald the enlisted, and to share in the bonds that bring us together as Americans.
By all measures the 2016 Patriot Ride was a roaring success, this year’s event estimated to raise between $200,000 to $250,000 for the Minnesota Patriot Guard, Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund, the Minnesota Tribute to the Troops Chapter and Folds of Honor. Dennis Kirk President Bob Behan, the driving force behind the Patriot Ride, said overall the event has raised approximately $1.9 million in 11 years for Minnesota’s veteran organizations and their families. Even the weather was on board this year, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s replacing rains of years past, a big factor in the record number of motorcycles that attended in 2016 with estimates ranging over 5,000.
While members of the Patriot Parachute Team dazzled the crowd with death-defying dives in the sky above, the St. Paul Motor Unit delighted the crowd on the ground with its demonstration of amazing riding skills, dodging in and out of 18-foot-wide orange cone circles on big Harley Electra Glides that tip the scales at almost 900 pounds. The Donnie Smith Bike Show had an outstanding turnout, with Paul Lovas earning a huge trophy and a feature spread in American Iron Magazine for winning “Best of Show.” Don Halverson, a 93-year-old WWII veteran, was a special guest at the 2016 Patriot Ride. With a wit still sharp as a tack, Halverson told us he proudly served in Minnesota’s Red Bull Infantry Division, 168th Rainbow Regiment, 2nd Battalion. He was a member of G Company, 4th Platoon that he said was comprised of three machines guns and three mortars. Halverson got the rock star treatment at the event as a steady flow of fellow veterans came up to him to thank him for his service.
Fellow veterans share a laugh with WWII vet and special guest Don Halverson.
The level of patriotism displayed during the 50 mile ride through the Minnesota countryside was simply astonishing. People lined the route and waved flags frenetically, cars honked their horns, and everywhere you went people waved, waved, waved. One group held a “Never Forget” banner up high for all riders to see, words that sink into your soul. After the ride, there was no shortage of tears shed at the honorary “Laying of the Wreath and “Ringing of the Bell” ceremonies at the Soldier’s Cross.
The “Laying of the Wreath” ceremony begins at the Soldier’s Cross at the Patriot Ride 2016.
To say the 2016 Patriot Ride was a moving experience doesn’t do it justice. But we’ll try in an upcoming feature article in American Iron Magazine. Until then, relive the ride vicariously courtesy of our photo gallery and check out videos on the American Iron Facebook page.
This classy Heritage Softail entered in the Donnie Smith/Patriot Ride Bike Show glimmered in the sunshine.
Flags were placed in honor of fallen loved ones during the “Laying of the Wreath” ceremony at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
Frank Heiland proudly pilots his Indian Chieftain that doubles as a fighter jet.
This young American Iron fan was having a great time checking out all the motorcycles in the Donnie Smith Bike Show at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
The St. Paul Motor Unit demonstrates their amazing riding skills much to the delight of the Patriot Ride crowd.
Flags were flying proudly at the 2016 Patriot Ride, even on this Harley FLS Slim outfitted with a sidecar.
The 11 Bravo bagger was a hit with the crowd at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
Mike Rasmussen of Eau Claire, WI, stands proudly with his bagger. Thanks for riding up to the Patriot Ride with us Mike!
The Hamsters were in the house, as Dawn Smith presents Crazy John Markwald the plaque for Best Rigid for his wild twin-engined, nitrous-boosted bike.
The Emerson Ave Band belted out tunes for the appreciative crowd at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
The paint job on this firefighter’s bike is a fitting tribute to brave first responders.
Ed Dillon proudly holds the trophy he won for Best Metric at the Donnie Smith/Patriot Ride Bike Show.
This young gun was ready to rock & roll on his chopper at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
Don Halverson served in the 34th Red Bull Division, 168th Rainbow Regiment, 2nd Battalion in “G” Company, 4th Platoon during World War II.
Cindy Chandler’s bagger, built by the crew at Donnie Smith, started as a Harley Softail Slim.
Doc Wahl is all smiles after winning the Best Antique Class at the Donnie Smith Bike Show held at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
Dennis Kirk’s Bob Behan talks about how thankful he is for the huge supporters that have helped make the Patriot Ride happen for the last 11 years.
Paul Lovas’ rigid won “Best of Show” honors at the Donnie Smith Bike Show at the 2016 Patriot Ride and will be featured in a spread in American Iron Magazine.
The ladies were racking up the awards at the Donnie Smith Bike Show at the Patriot Ride as Patty Mesenbrink (L) won the Sportster Modified Class and Cindy Chandler (R) earned top honors in the Bagger Modified Class.
The time-honored tradition of pinstriping requires a steady hand.
These aspiring young sailors led the Patriot Ride crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Salutes were a frequent sight at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
It was “follow the leader” as the St. Paul Motor Police weaved in and out of cones at the 2016 Patriot Ride.
Donnie Smith and our own Buzz Kanter get ready to read off the name of the “Best of Show” winner.
John Sweeney won the Dyna Stock Class at the Donnie Smith/Patriot Ride Bike Show.
“I Ride in Honor” Patriot Ride 2016
Frank Heiland is all smiles as he hoists the trophy for Best Indian Motorcycle at the Donnie Smith/Patriot Ride Bike Show.