Bikers on Parade 2022 offers an opportunity for motorcyclists to raise money for local veterans

BY MIGUEL MOLINA, Alachua Chronicle Correspondent

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Travis Harvey says people get bored doing the same thing over and over again, even if it is for a great cause.

American Veteran Hometown Assist is putting on a motorcycling fundraising event titled “Bikers on Parade 2022” on Sunday, Nov. 13 to raise money for local veterans and first responders in need. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and will feature a new parade route that starts at Santa Fe College and ends at CountryWay Town Square. The cost to participate in the parade is $25 per bike and $10 per passenger. Bikers and riders can register for the event on the day of the parade at Santa Fe College or online at eventbrite.com.

Travis Harvey, board chair of AHVA, says this year’s “Bikers on Parade” event will be different. Because people might get bored doing the same ride every year, he has implemented a new parade route that will head south to the city of Newberry. However, the parade start location will continue to be at Santa Fe College. The “Bikers on Parade 2022” parade route will go west on NW 39th Avenue to NW 143rd Street, then south on NW 143rd Street to Newberry Road, then west on Newberry Road to SW 250th Street, and finally south on SW 250th Street to CountryWay Town Square.

Harvey says CountryWay Town Square will be the new ending venue for this year’s parade. Gainesville Raceway, the previous ending venue, was a good and large place to hold the afterparty from past parades, but AHVA chose CountryWay Town Square as the new ending venue because they want a more intimate setting and a smaller venue that brings people closer together.

The staging or pre-parade event for bikers and riders, which will take place at Santa Fe College, will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 10:30 a.m. Participants can register at this time as well. Bikers and riders will receive a commemorative shirt, coin, coffee, and breakfast items. Harvey says after the mandatory safety briefing at 10:45 a.m., the parade should begin at 11 a.m. if all goes according to schedule; the ride itself should take about 35 minutes to complete. He says that people not riding in the parade can still participate in the event by lining up on the side of the roads that are in the parade route. Also, people can attend the afterparty and donate $10 to receive a food voucher that can be used at the ending venue.

The afterparty will take place at CountryWay Town Square and will start when the bikers and riders arrive, which should be around 11:35 a.m. Harvey says there will be a variety of things to do. Country-rock artist Clay Brooker will be performing, and there will be food provided for bikers and riders by Tailgators BBQ & Catering. There will be auctions and raffles at the afterparty, including auctions for a motorcycle and a boat trip. The items being raffled off consist of gift cards, paintings, and several other items, including a gift basket from Total Wine & More.

Harvey says all the money raised from the auctions, raffles, and parade participants will all be donated to the mission. AHVA provides emergency financial funds such as clothes, food, and utilities to local veterans and first responders. “We got a transmission we just replaced on a veteran’s van a couple months ago,” Harvey said.

Tom Lynch, an AHVA board member, has ridden in the event 14 times and is planning to do so again this year. “As someone who did not serve, this is my service,” Lynch said. 

He says he is a supporter of the mission and what the money is raised for but also believes the education and awareness that come from the event can lead to a continued conversation as to why there should be support for veterans and first responders.

Larry Jenney, chairman of the board of Rolling Thunder Florida Chapter 3, served in the Air Force for six years and has ridden in the event eight times. He says he continues to participate in the event not only for the cause but because he enjoys the support that the parade watchers give from the sidewalk.

“They’ve all got their flags going and it just makes you feel tremendous,” Jenney said. “It’s a very uplifting event.” He says that he is looking forward to the new route and has already driven by the ending venue, which is a nice development and looks like it is going to be appropriate. “It’s definitely not as big as what the raceway was, but we’ll see,” he added.