Report by Paula Antolini
September 15, 2017 11:38AM EDT
VIDEO/PHOTOS: The 17th Annual CT United Ride 2017 Honors Those Lost in 9/11, Rides Through Bethel CT
Mid-day on September 10, 2017, thousands of motorcycles rode up Route 58, entering into Bethel, CT from Redding, CT, in the 17th Annual CT United Ride, originating from Norwalk, traveling through numerous CT towns and ending in Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT.
This is Connecticut’s largest annual 9/11 tribute and the largest single ride in New England. An estimated 10,000 spectators attend.
Onlookers lined the route in various locations, waving flags and cheering on the riders, one couple holding a large poster of a 9/11 flag with names inscribed. Some residents piled into the back of pick up trucks with children, others sat in lawn chairs on lawns lining the road.
In Bethel, some residents had arrived more than an hour earlier, in anticipation of this event, as fire fighters were hanging a large American flag in Bethel.
The Bethel Volunteer Fire and EMS Department and the New Fairfield Fire Department trucks had their ladders up and proudly hung a large American flag over Route 58 at Starr Lane and Sunset Hill Road. Fire truck horns sounded loudly as riders passed and riders’ horns reciprocated. Children were given child-sized fire fighter hats and were thrilled to sit in a real fire truck before the motorcycle procession started.
Each year the fire departments share this task for a special reason. Chief Scott Murphy of the Bethel FD said, “We do it every year with New Fairfield. The connection between us is Chris Blackwell. He lost his life in 9/11, he was our paramedic. He taught a lot of us. He was from New Fairfield so we always set this up together.”
Chris Blackwell was a Paramedic in Bethel, a Volunteer Fire Fighter in New Fairfield and also worked for the New York Fire Department, Rescue Company Number 3, of the Bronx, and died in the 9/11 tragedy. He was a resident of New Fairfield.
According to New Fairfield Selectman Mike Gill, the flag was owned by Dan Reese, Chairman of the Board of Finance in New Fairfield. He then gave it to William (Bill) DeFeo, who was a former selectman and probate judge, who now loans the flag for occasions such as this, Gill said.
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…as it passed through Bethel, CT, under the American flag installed over the road on Route 58, by Bethel Fire & EMS and the New Fairfield Fire Department.
Photo above: Chief Scott Murphy (center) with other firefighters from Bethel Fire & EMS.