The parade of motorcycles will start at Cottonwood Park in Sparks and travel through both cities before returning to the park for festivities that will last throughout the day.
“We do this so we won’t forget what happened [on Sept. 11],” club founding member Bob Dawg said, “so people don’t lose perspective on what happened. And we do it for the fallen soldiers and their families in our area.”
Sign-ups for the run are from 9 to 11 a.m. The event starts off with the singing of the national anthem and guest speakers, including volunteer firefighters and Sen. John Ensign’s wife, Darlene, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There also will be prayer and National Guard ceremonies.
The parade is an hour-long, police-escorted event but when bikers return to Cottonwood Park the festivities really begin. After the run, Iron Nation will hold a barbecue with tri-tip steak and salad. Dawg said around 30 vendors will be in the park for guests with everything from leather goods to Icees.
“It’s about community support,” Dawg said. “We don’t want people to think, ‘We can’t take the kids.’ Sure there’s a motorcycle parade but the physical event is family friendly. We’re going to have face painting and bounce houses for kids.”
For the adults, Dawg said there will be a big auction and a raffle where attendees can win prizes like Reno Air Race tickets and room suites at various hotels.
New this year is a memorial tent where pictures of soldiers and Sept. 11 will be shown on a projector. Next to it, replicas of the twin towers will be constructed as a memorial to everyone who died. There also will be a book for guests to sign and a place for people to reflect if they need time to think, Dawg said.
All funds from the event, through participation, sponsors and donations, go to the Nevada Military Support Alliance, which helps the families of soldiers who have died.
“Since 2002, we’ve raised almost $80,000 for families in Nevada,” Iron Nation Motorcycle Club member Krista Lane said. “It all goes to the families and it’s a great event. Most of us know exactly where we were and what we were doing when it happened and I think everybody knows someone who was left behind, or someone who went into the military after it happened. This is how we show support.”
Lane said one of the biggest parts of the event will be having Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini attend for the second year in a row. This year, Cashell and Martini will be grand marshals for the parade.
“It’s really exciting to have the mayors there,” Lane said. “Last year was their first year and I think they were surprised by the event and the turnout.”
Dawg said there is a certain wow-factor to having the Reno and Sparks mayors at the event, and that they’ve helped draw crowds by publicly supporting the cause.
Every year the Never Forget 911 Memorial Motorcycle Run has a theme. This year the event honor the firefighters of 343 New York City firefighters who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We want to honor the innocent victims on that tragic day,” Lane said. “Firefighters sacrifice without question and this year is for them.”
Last year Iron Nation was hoping to match the 2008 fund collection of $15,000. When they earned $17,000 for military families, Dawg gave credit to one simple factor:
“It comes down to the attendance,” Dawg said. “It’s a huge feat with the economy and we’ve been really fortunate because the event has grown every year. It’s a community pulling together for their community.”
For more information on the event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.