By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — The Gold Wing Road Riders Association Summer Rally will take place from July 24 to 26 at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
The event will feature a 100-plus motorcycle flag parade downtown, a memorial balloon release, a light show and ice cream. These activities start at 7:30 p.m. July 25.
Rachel Hunsell, marketing executive for the Mt. Vernon Convention & Visitors Bureau, said this is the first time Mt. Vernon is hosting the Summer Rally.
The association chose Mt. Vernon for the event because of the city’s commitment to honoring veterans, Hunsell said.
“We do so much for all those who serve. They really wanted to be in a community like that,” Hunsell said. “I think it’s really great for Mt. Vernon to have the Gold Wing Riders come in. … I think it really is a wonderful opportunity.”
The theme of the Summer Rally is a “Weekend of Heroes.” The event will serve as a tribute to all veterans, firemen, policemen and others who have
served, states a Mt. Vernon CVB news release.
Event organizers are currently taking vendor applications for the rally. Mt. Vernon area military, veterans, police and fire department organizations are also encouraged to participate in the July 25 flag parade, Hunsell said.
According to the organization’s website, the GWRRA is recognized as “the world’s largest single-marquee motorcycle association in the world.” The group provides “safety, technical and education services” to its members, the site states.
“It’s all about education — good riding and education,” said Greg Bridgwater, director of the GWRRA’s Illinois F Chapter. “That’s kind of important when it comes to motorcycle riding.”
Bridgwater added the Summer Rally is a “pretty big event” for the organization. The rally is expected to draw more than 200 Gold Wing Riders to Mt. Vernon.
The event kicks off on the evening of July 24 with dinner at Waterkotte Harley Davidson, the news release states. Then, the riders will travel to Marion that evening to attend a Southern Illinois Miners Game.
An opening ceremony for the rally will take place at 9 a.m. July 25 at the Holiday Inn. Vendors of all kinds will also be available that day, the release states. The downtown parade begins that evening.
Then, finally, the rally will conclude July 26 with bike games and vendors at the Holiday Inn, the release states.
Hunsell said the event has great tourism potential for the city.
“We hope they come back,” Hunsell said of the riders.
For more information, contact the Mt. Vernon Tourism office at 242-3151. You can also call GWRRA Illinois Assistant District Directors Steve and Diana Gottschalk at 889-5778.