Report by Paula Antolini
September 10, 2018, 11:29PM EDT
VIDEOS/PHOTOS: ‘The 18th Annual CT United Ride’ 9/11 Tribute Passed Through Bethel, Sept. 9th
“For those that lost their lives, those that gave their lives, and those that continue to put their lives on the line each day to keep us safe, that’s why we ride.” —CT United Ride
Cloudy skies and cool temperatures did not deter spectators from lining Route 58 in Bethel and surrounding towns, to view motorcycles passing, beginning at approximately 12:30 p.m., during ‘The 18th Annual CT United Ride’ 9/11 tribute on Sunday September 9th, 2018. The ride supports first responders and their families from 9/11.
The ride is Connecticut’s largest annual 9/11 tribute. Riders and Spectators total over 20,000 people.
Onlookers lined the route in various locations, waving flags and cheering on the riders, one Bethel couple holding a large poster of a 9/11 “Flag of Heroes” 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 began hanging a large American flag in Bethel.
The New Fairfield Fire Department and Bethel Fire and EMS worked together (view photos below) preparing and hanging the American flag over Route 58 (at Starr Lane and Sunset Hill Rd.) via New Fairfield Truck 4 and Bethel Tower 1. Once the parade began, fire truck horns sounded loudly as riders passed, and riders’ horns reciprocated.
Each year the fire departments share this task for a special reason. According to Chief Scott Murphy of the Bethel FD, they share this event every year with the New Fairfield Fire Department because the connection between the fire departments is Chris Blackwell. He lost his life in 9/11, and he was their paramedic.
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 he died in the 9/11 tragedy. He was a resident of New Fairfield.
According to New Fairfield Selectman Mike Gill in 2017, 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.
This year’s CT United Ride was dedicated to CT State Trooper First Class Walter Greene #1297 who volunteered at ground zero, lead the CT Annual Ride event for years, and recently passed away from 9/11 illness complications.
The event began in Norwalk, CT at Exit 17 off I-95 (Norden Park) and Ceremonies began at 10:30.
The Ride began at 11:30 a.m. and passed through CT towns as follows:
- Motorcade from Norden Park to Rte 136
- to Rte 33 through Westport
- to Wilton Rte 7
- to Rte 107 Georgetown
- to Rte 58N Redding
- to Rte 302 Bethel
- to Newtown Rte 25 through Monroe
- to Main Street Trumbull
- to Old Town Rd
- to Park Ave in Fairfield
- continuing into Bridgeport and straight down to Seaside Park with Bpt’s Fire Rescue 5 leading the Motorcade.
The parade ended at Seaside Park in Bridgeport for an afternoon of food, and music with performances by both rock and blues bands.
Last Sept. they ended with 2,300 motorcycles at Seaside Park! The first year’s ride was for NYC, since then they are raising funds for CT Firefighters, CT Law Enforcement, and two local United Ways.
To new safety rules were implemented this year.
1) Riders cannot leave the Motorcade. “All Riders who start must finish the entire ride. Riders are not allowed to leave the motorcade unless for emergency medical or engine trouble. Riders who leave the motorcade during the ride leave huge gaps and increase the likelihood of cars unsafely entering the line. If you do not want to do the entire 60 miles please do not sign up.” officials ruled.
Code of Conduct Rule:
“Unfortunately the negative actions of a few require us to implement this new rule.”
2) This is a 9/11 tribute for the victims and heroes. Any participant whose conduct is rude or disruptive to any of the speakers during the remembrance ceremony will be removed from the lineup and not allowed to participate, with no refund, and permanently banned from participating.
There were also new instructions due to construction at the starting point.
Also these requirements were in place:
“There have been issues with the large size of vehicles and conversely the lack of power of the smaller engines.”
Motorcycles Only – ALL Must be Highway Compliant / over 125 CC’s
“We do not go on the Highway, But the need to close gaps requires engine strength that can safely and legally travel on the highway.”
NOT ALLOWED in the motorcade:
- 4 wheeled vehicles / Quads
- Dune Buggy style vehicles
- Motorcycle Trailers
ALLOWED in the motorcade:
- Trikes that have tandem seating and handlebars
- Two wheeled motorcycle with a side car.
The event is Sponsored by the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut (UPFFA).
VIEW PHOTOS and VIDEO BELOW
Click on each photo to view larger
BETHEL FIRE & EMS and NEW FAIRFIELD FD RAISING THE AMERICAN FLAG over Route 58 in Bethel:
THE 18TH ANNUAL CT UNITED RIDE BEGINS (Part 1):
THE 18TH ANNUAL CT UNITED RIDE CONTINUES (Part 2):
THE 18TH ANNUAL CT UNITED RIDE PHOTOS …
Bethel Fire & EMS and New Fairfield FD Raising the American Flag over Route 58 in Bethel CT:
THE 18TH ANNUAL CT UNITED RIDE begins …