SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Thousands of bikers came together in Sevierville to continue a tradition. There was no shortage of leather or metal in town Sunday for the 22nd Smoky Mountain Thunder Memorial Ride.
“It’s a perfect day, the sun is out shining,” memorial ride founder and coordinator Ron Giddis said. “Going to be perfect temperatures. I served in Vietnam in ’68 and ’69. I was one of the lucky ones who made it home but yet again that is why we’re here, to pay tribute to our fallen military.”
David Shaw and Darryl Luna are bikers from Panama City.
“They do a great job it’s a great ride, remembering the fallen veterans, it’s a great tribute,” Shaw said.
“The people in this area are just awesome. They are more than welcoming as far as us coming in and good hosts,” Luna added.
A lot of people plan their vacations around the memorial ride. Bikers made the 65-mile trek from Sevierville to the Veterans Overlook at Clinch Mountain in Grainger County.
Charles Phillip is from Oliver Springs. Sunday was his first Smoky Mountain Thunder Memorial Ride.
“Been riding since I was about 14-years-old, dirt biking, street biking, stuff like that. Built my own bikes. It’s nice weather, best day to be out here just honor our veterans and everything they do and the police and all that stuff everything they do to keep us safe,” he said.
“This is our third year,” Shaw said. “Darryl’s fifth, he told me about the ride and we’ve been coming with him ever since.”
Giddis estimated the rider line was about eight or so miles long.
“What we would like folks to take away from Smoky Mountain Thunder is the true meaning of the weekend,” he said. “There’s picnics, there’s boating, there’s all kinds of things. Family reunions and all those things are great but all of that came to be and made possible by the people who were willing to serve and made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Giddis plans to continue the memorial ride. We’ll let you know when next year’s event is planned.