Continuing the tradition of remembering those who were lost Sept. 11, 2001, along with those who responded during the attacks with a motorcycle ride, the 9/11 Memorial Coalition is gearing up for its 12th trip through the area.
Gates for the memorial service at the Clinton Township Fire Hall open at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The service begins at 5:30 p.m. with the ride starting at 6 p.m.
But unlike past rides, this year's trip will take a different route.
New ride route.
Thomas "Tank" Baird, co-founder, said the group began applying for permits to close down exit ramps and have patrol cars on site to keep the group of bikers together, as they have in the past, around March.
But he said the permits remained "in flux" for months, forcing the group to change the route.
"We will not be going through most of South Side and we will not be going through much of Williamsport. This is news. We did not want to do this," Baird said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 12th annual 9/11 Memorial Ride
service 5:30 p.m.,
ride 6 p.m.
WHERE: Starts at Clinton Township Fire Hall
The state Department of Transportation offered Baird and the other riders an alternate route about 10 days ago but by that time Baird said plans for the shortened route already were made.
"There was a Plan B, but we did not have time to implement that Plan B," he said.
Baird added that since the group of National Guard soldiers that usually helps with traffic control for the event is being deployed two days after the ride, that he couldn't find enough "manpower" to stop traffic.
Baird said he would rather the soldiers spend time with their families leading up to their deployment.
As Baird explained, the ride came about when he spoke with his friend, Don Miller. The two men coordinated the event in a few days.
"We started talking about doing something. We were both bikers and we started making some calls. And the first ride actually took place four days after the attack," he said.
Baird said when he talks to those around the area, some believe it's just an event where people ride motorcycles but he said it's much more than that.
"This is the largest memorial in the country," he said. "People of this region should be proud that this event is going on."
Bishop Van Johnson, from Louisville, Ky., will speak at the service before the ride and was at ground zero following the attacks.
Johnson, along with others from around the world, have told Baird they will attend. He's expecting fire personnel from South America and England.
Baird expects the new route to take about three or four miles off the ride, and he added that it's no one's fault and they hope to have the full ride next year.
"All of the boroughs have cooperated in the past, including South Williamsport, and continue to do so," he said.
Baird isn't sure how many riders will participate this year but said there's always support from people along the side of the road.
"I hope that they see that there are thousands of people banded together that, I think, they see hope for this country. I think I would like for them to think whether they're bikers - which are just plain people - (or not) ... that there's hope," Baird said.