Motorcyclists hooted, hollered and revved their engines Sunday at an East Valley church parking lot. But the group at Spring of Life Christian Church welcomed the noise for a good cause.
About 300 motorcycles rolled up to the east Mesa church for the inaugural Blessing of the Bikes — a tribute to bikers and a chance to honor military veterans and public officials.
It also gave pastors a chance to speak to a different crowd.
“We wanted to pray for the safety and salvation of all bikers,” said John Smith, the church’s motorcycle ministry director. “There are a large group of bikers that have never heard of this and we can reach out to those that need our help.” Smith became the motorcycle ministry director in September after bringing the idea from a church in Pennsylvania.
To start Sunday’s ceremony, pastor Scott Bloyer rode his silver Kawasaki down the center of the church auditorium followed by songs from a live band, and a prayer for riders. Bikers then revved their engines in a 21-second salute to honor veterans.
After the Blessing of the Bikes, the motorcyclists took part in “Loops for Troops” — a ride along loops 101 and 202.
Gilbert resident Doug Stanny, who belongs to a similar group in Phoenix, took part. “It’s good to be together with fellow Christian bikers and help other ministries,” Stanny said.
Andy Blahak of Queen Creek has ridden bikes for almost 40 years and said that religious affiliation doesn’t get in the way of a good time.
“I’m not a religious person,” Blahak said. “But I enjoy anything to do with bikes.”
Tra’ Bell of Mesa, a member of the church, said this event was a good reminder to be safe on roadways.
“Riding can be dangerous,” Bell said. “But it’s nice to have that extra blessing.”