More than 3,000 motorcycle riders from Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming and New Mexico participated in the POW/MIA Recognition Ride/Salute to American Veterans Rally from Woodland Park to Cripple Creek Aug. 22.
American Legion Riders from Woodland Park’s Post 1980 led the parade.
A 33-year-tradition, this year’s ride took place without the usual celebration that included food vendors, bands and ceremonies in Cripple Creek. Due to concerns about the potential impacts of the ride on the spread of the coronavirus, the Cripple Creek City Council voted to cancel the celebration.
“At the time, virus statistics were picking up,” said Cripple Creek Mayor Milford Ashworth last week. “Our main goals are to keep the casinos open and protect the residents of Cripple Creek.”
While Teller County Commissioners and the Teller County Board of Health approved a variance for the motorcycle ride, the city of Cripple Creek has jurisdiction over what takes place in the city itself.
“If the casinos shut down we’d have to cut our budget, which would affect police and firefighters,” Ashworth said.
After being shutdown since the middle of March, the city’s casinos were granted a variance by Gov. Jared Polis to reopen June. 15.
The casinos follow guidelines required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before entering a casino, visitors must be wearing a mask, maintain social distancing, agree to have their temperatures taken, sign a check-in sheet and wear an identification bracelet for the purpose of potential contact tracing.
According to Teller County Public Health and Environment, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 among people who attended the rally.
The two-day celebration began Aug. 21 with a R.E.D. T-shirt event in Bergstrom Arena in Woodland Park. According to Larry Ingram, U.S. Navy (Ret.), riders lined up to receive shirts from Jim Wear, of Pro Promotions, who has organized the rally for decades.
Wear, along with Law Tigers, gave away hundreds of red T-shirts.
This year, Wear, along with the riders, donated $5,200 to the Teller County Veterans Trust fund. “We are honored to be able to support Teller County veterans. This is why we do what we do.” Wear said.
Dan Williams, commander of American Legion Post 1980 and administrator of the Teller County Veterans Trust, accepted the check last week.
“We are grateful to Jim Wear and the American Veterans Rally committee for donating part of the proceeds from their ride directly to our veteran community,” Williams said. “We will use the money across the county, working with the VFW and the American Legion posts and other organizations that identify a need for our veterans, their families and their widows.”
The riders included members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycling Association, who held their 16th annual “High-Altitude Poker Run” Aug. 21 in Cripple Creek.
The CVMA donated $1,250 to the Rifle Veterans Living Center, a care facility for aging veterans in Rifle, Garfield County.