By John Garavaglia
HILLMAN – Hundreds of motorcycles and riders gathered in downtown Hillman for the 23rd annual Blessing of the Bikes. Eight different pastors blessed the bikes and their owners for a safe and happy season of riding.
The rally has been held in memorial for the event founder and avid rider George DeCaire. Hillman Area Chamber of Commerce president Jim Paczkowski remembers his friend very fondly.
‘George was the one who put this together in the first place,’ stated Paczkowski. ‘When he passed we didn’t know if we were going to keep this going. But knowing George, he wouldn’t want us to stop.’
The blessing, being one of the chamber’ major outings, draws the attention to all over the state. Riders from Flint, Saginaw, and even around the Detroit area drove all the way up to Hillman to turn to a higher power. Not only to pray for their own safety, but for others as well.
The event didn’t exclude ATV riders or regular bicycles. Even three-year-old Owen Mercer, a Hillman youth, had his toy motorcycle blessed when the pastors made their way up Main Street. This was young Mercer’ second blessing, and his grandfather, Bike Riders of Hillman owner Dennis Allen, was thrilled on his grandson’ enthusiasm.
Bike Riders of Hillman held a reception at their building, giving away free hotdogs, pop and coffee to both riders and spectators alike.
Donny Hartman, formerly of the Alpena psychedelic rock band known as The Frost, was in attendance, entertaining the crowd with hits from the 60s and 70s. There was also a 50/50 drawing with half the proceeds being donated to the Special Olympics.