Rolling Thunder, one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the US, has roared through Washington, D.C., for the last time. Or has it?
First organized for the 1988 riding season by the Rolling Thunder advocacy group, Rolling Thunder runs Memorial Day weekend in D.C. as a show of patriotism and support for American troops. The weekend’s main event is a mass motorcycle ride through the city on the Sunday before Memorial Day, with other smaller events running through the rest of the weekend. The name might suggest a horde of loud cruisers, and that’s certainly the stereotypical attendee, but it’s actually named after a bombing campaign from the Vietnam War, and all sorts of bikes attend from all over North America, not just the US.
Last year, more than 500,000 motorcycles were figured to be in attendance.
This was supposed to be the last year for Rolling Thunder in the capital, as last winter the organizers had said the cost of running the event in D.C. had climbed too high. Supposedly, by the time organizers had secured all the permits, filled out all the paperwork and laid all the other groundwork necessary for the event, the price tag had climbed to $200,000. Considering the event’s roots in advocacy for veterans, the organizers felt that money could be better spent elsewhere, on people who need help more than they need a motorcycle parade.
However, President Donald Trump figured the rally should stay in D.C., and tweeted his support, saying “The Great Patriots of Rolling Thunder WILL be coming back to Washington, D.C. next year, & hopefully for many years to come.” But even though President Trump figured the money issues could be sorted out, it seems organizers thought otherwise. Spokesperson Nancy Regg pointed out funding alone wasn’t the only reason for the event’s closure, as they’d heard from people willing to donate to keep Rolling Thunder in D.C.; despite that willingness, organizers thought it best to run smaller, more localized events instead of the massive national ride. This would make it easier for veterans to participate without the expense and trouble of traveling to D.C. every year.
However, in an interview with USA Today, she left the door open for a return to the nation’s capital in the future.