Each year Rolling Thunder takes place over the Memorial Day weekend. Tens of thousands of riders converge on Washington, DC each year, some traveling as far away as California, northwest Canada and yes some from aboard in literally worldwide.
I have now lived in the Washington, DC metro area for over 10 years. I have attended 8 Rolling Thunders and participated in the “Run to the Wall” 5 times. So, allow me to give you some tips on what to expect, how you can be prepared, and the feeling of the event in general.
Each year Rolling Thunder takes place over the Memorial Day weekend. Tens of thousands of riders converge on Washington, DC each year, some traveling as far away as California, northwest Canada and yes some from aboard in literally worldwide. I only need travel about 25 minutes from my front door to the parking lot of the Pentagon, where it all starts.
Planning to Run The Wall
If plan to do the Run to the Wall, here are some things you should be prepared to do.
1) Wait and wait some more; because you will be waiting for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. Don’t let that distract you, make good use of the time like as I do. I walk around check the other riders motorcycles, get a cup of coffee from one the food vendors, check out apparel vendors, and most importantly socialize with the other riders participating.
2) Check the weather forecast and be prepared. I’ve been on some where it rained the entire time we waited in the parking, then rain stopped long enough for the Run to the Wall and once we done, well the rain decided to bless again with a down pour. I’ve experienced it 45 to 50 degrees when I left home at 5:00 am to it reaching 85 degrees by 10:30 or 11:00 am.
3) Another thing I bring is a through poncho or old blanket, because once I’ve walked around and talked, I go over by the river and relax.
Rolling Thunder is mostly known as a ride for veterans, which is true yet all are welcome to come attend. The rally had its first go in 1988, media coverage lasted a whole 4 and ½ seconds on the news, and was then forgotten about.
Hitting a Mile Stone
Now after hitting a mile stone of estimated half a million riders in 2005 it is one of DC’s most talked about and attend events. It started to bring awareness to the public of Viet Nam Veterans who had been left behind and a voice to be heard to pressure the government to be bring our unaccounted for men and women home. It has now become a rally to serve all Veterans and POW/MIA from all wars, past and present.
When attending make sure you walk down to Thunder Alley, where you find an assortment of vendors, everything from your greasy unhealthy yet delicious carnival type food, to leather products, apparal, and motorcycle accessories. Also, make sure to take the time to stop and listen to some of the guest speakers who attend it is truly worth your time and effort.
Next, make sure to visit the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial, but be prepared it is one of the most emotional experiences you will ever have in life. Veterans and family members gather there to pay tribute to those who have not returned home yet inform of military ensignia, letters, cards, pretty much anything you can think of being left for those who served so loyally and proudly. I get chocked up and shed a tear no matter now times I’ve been there.
Rolling Thunder is some great fun with a purpose, so if you haven’t attended you should and if you’re thinking about ridding it’s even better. I would that to thank all the veterans and active duty service men and women, I for one greatly appreciate your service.
Remember all gave some, Some gave all.