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Rolling Thunder Departs, Peace and Quiet Returns

by ARLnow.com June 1, 2010 at 11:47 am 4,740 19 Comments

It’s hard to criticize a group that travels long distances to gather in support of our troops. It’s even harder when that same patriotic group is helping the local economy by staying at local hotels and dining at the local Chili’s.

But ask just about any Arlington resident who lives within earshot of Route 1, I-395 or I-66 what they think of Rolling Thunder, and they’ll probably have some uncharitable things to say about the “Thunder” part of the Memorial Day weekend tradition.

In fact, the gadfly blogger over at Arlington Yupette may have hit a nerve with this post about how the noise seems to be getting worse every year.

“These guys kept my family awake the past 3 nights,” wrote one commenter.

“It’s a yearly contest to see who can ride the loudest motorcycle with the most obese woman on the back,” said another member of the complaint chorus.

Not everyone seems to agree with the criticism, however. Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, who previously welcomed the Rolling Thunder crowd to town on his editor’s blog, mused that “it must be the complainer’s equivalent of a slow news week.”

  • tjp

    I was actually surprised how little I heard them this weekend. Given that and given that I am not a driver, I don’t mind the increased traffic and commercial retail they give the area.

  • Kate

    They bring money, they honor our troops, and they are more respectful visitors than regular tourists. The complainers need to get over themselves. (And yes, I could hear them, see them, and had to reroute some of my weekend travel; that’s life, people.)

  • lily

    The motorcycle noise really didn’t bother me that much, and I live right by the Fairfax Drive exit to I66. If they were having out-of-control parties all night right outside my building, I’d feel differently, but as it was the annoyance was minimal.

  • Phil

    I live in Crystal City, which was Bikertown for the past week. Now they’re gone, and I’ll miss the excitement.

  • Darwin

    It must be tough for people to lose sleep for 3 nights because of some motorcycle noise…much harder I’m sure then for the people riding them that are losing a life time of sleep to nightmares from post tramatic stress disorder or the constant pain from having a loved one who never returned. Could some Arlington residents be any less caring?

  • MB

    I’ve got nothing bad to say about them, and a good number of them tend to crash just down the road from me, at the Highlander (Arlington’s only no-star motel?). 13 years here, and have never bothered me a whit.

  • JP

    I wonder what the bikers thought of Arlington? To the rest of our country, we are where the heros are buried; the same place these bikers came to honor. Noise complaints? I think the throaty sound of two or more bikes rising in and out of rpm harmony sounds pretty nice; better than 3 am car alarms, endlessly barking neglected dogs and the guy in the next booth screaming on a cell phone while I’m eating. I’ll take the bike noise, any day.

  • SC

    I, for one, am glad to see them gone. Living in the building next to the hotel in which most of them stayed (Crystal City Hyatt) I had all weekend to listen to the wonderful sounds emanating from their motorcycles. Sure, I appreciate the reason they’re here but honoring our troops doesn’t mean they need to be unreasonably rowdy and lacking in respect for local residents.

  • Ellen Poole

    You of course know that on Arlington Yupette all the REPLIES are from the person who runs the site.

    • Mike

      Oh, a conspiracy!!!!

  • Bob

    I would suggest that they put mufflers on those monster noise makers and honor our troops as “Rolling Peace”.

  • Margaret

    Oh, give me a break!!!

    The only combat a typical Arlington yuppie is familiar with is the long line at Starbucks. For someone to complain that his family loses three nights of sleep out of a WHOLE YEAR makes me sick. Talk to the families of our troops over in Afghanistan and Iraq and find out how much sleep neither party is getting. Starbucks ought to start offering free cups of STFU.

  • Skeptical

    There are people for whom losing three nights of sleep is a big deal — starting with anyone who’s ill or recuperating. And there are people in Arlington besides “yuppies,” honestly.

    That said, the event was quieter than it was in past years. It would probably be even quieter if the only people in the motorcycle pass-in-review were actual combat veterans or their children/spouses. I just chatted with a woman whose office mate had a “mid-life crisis” a few years back, bought a Harley and takes it downtown to ride in the pack every Memorial Day — “the most a-political woman I’ve ever seen,” my friend described her, but the lure of all that commotion and cheering is too hard to resist. She can’t be the only one. There’s something off-key about that.

  • Mike

    You whiny freaks need to get a life. I don’t recall anyone bitching when the envior freaks or the g7 hippies come to town and stink the place up with thier smelly BO

    • Skeptical

      You know, Mike, it might be nice if people could discuss the pros and cons of an issue without name-calling or empty taunts like “get a life.” Some people are bothered by noise; some don’t care. Some people find Rolling Thunder an emotionally uplifting ceremony, some see a crowd of bikers who over decades have converted a pilgrimage of conscience into a big weekend party. I can grasp both points of view, having witnessed participants who approached it from both perspectives.

      Because someone has a point of view you don’t agree with doesn’t make him or her a freak and has nothing to do with other protests that don’t involve motorcycles. (Hmm… would the “enviro-freaks” be people who are concerned about things like the mess we are now witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico? Yep, freaks, totally off in a dream world, let’s scoff at them why don’t we?) Would you speak to another person like that with your bare face hanging out?

  • Marty

    You can bet that the businesses in Arlington are not complaining about the money the Rolling Thunder crowds spend at local establishments. Come on, they are honoring the vets! They are a huge tourist attraction for Arlington even if the noise is an inconvenience to some.

  • Susan

    Why don’t you ask those of us who live adjacent to I-395 what we think? Rolling Thunder is worse every year. Move it to Virginia Beach as some have suggested.

    Thank you Arlington Yupette.

    • Helen

      I have friends on Lee hwy who can’t wait for them to come by and I hear them from Rte 50 and sit outside to listen. Why would they move to VA Beach? That would defeat the whole purpose of it. Face it you live in or near the capital of this country and that is where anyone can get the most “face time”. Hope they can keep coming for another 24 yrs. Can’t wait until the 25th – 2012!

  • Pudden Tane

    They’re gross, loud, obnoxious, and the lowest common denominator. We in Crystal City (Yuppies? The 80s called…they want their decade back.) pay dearly for upscale housing and amenities. Actually, we pay good money to get AWAY from filth like this. If we wanted to deal with hicks without mufflers, we’d have moved to the sticks.

    Seriously. All it is now is a drunken party for these idiots. The good cause for which they’re here has LONG left the building. And why do they have to “honor” by being disrespectful to the people whose neighborhood in which they’re residing for three days?

    Oh. Yeah. They ride Harleys…that’s why. lol


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