Thousands of motorcycle riders are set to descend again on Arlington and D.C. for the annual Memorial Day weekend Rolling Thunder rally.
The bikers are scheduled to arrive next Friday, May 26, with many gathering around the event’s headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in the afternoon before a “Blessing of the Bikes” at the National Cathedral and a candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
On Saturday the bikers will depart Crystal City around 10 a.m. and head to a free barbecue at a Harley-Davidson dealer in Fort Washington, Maryland. A wreath laying is also planned at the Navy Memorial in D.C. later that morning.
On Sunday, the group will gather en masse in the Pentagon parking lots before riding across the Memorial Bridge into D.C. for Rolling Thunder’s main event, which will include speakers and musical performances around the Reflecting Pool. Among those expected to perform is country artist Billy Ray Cyrus.
This is the 30th year of Rolling Thunder, which was founded to bring attention to plight of military service members missing or imprisoned during the Vietnam War.
From the group’s website: “[We] are united in the cause to bring full accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: ‘We Will Not Forget.'”
A number of road closures are expected on Sunday to accommodate the bikers. Though the event has largely gone off without a hitch over the past few years, some Arlington residents have complained about the frequent rumble of motorcycles that one can hear around highways and some main roads throughout the weekend.