FLEMINGTON, NJ – Reverends bless many things, including marriages, children, animals and musical instruments.
But a blessing for a motorcycle? That’s a tradition, too, according to Rev. Seth Fisher of the First Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hunterdon, which is located on Route 519 in Baptistown.
The bike blessings were an integral part of Cycle Billy Bash, a bi-annual motorcycle show that was recently held at Factory Fuel Co. here.
There was live music, beer, food and trophies, and it culminated in a “Blessing of the Bikes” by Fisher.
Fisher, who himself has a BMW motorcycle and said he has ridden a bike solo from coast-to-coast and from Mexico to Canada, explained the tradition.
“Because it is dangerous, a blessing is for bikes and riders for their safety,” he said. “It’s like having a house blessed.”
Included in the blessing is one for those who are gone, he said. After the initial blessing, attendees call out the name of someone who rode bikes and is no longer with us, whether the rider was killed on a bike or died of other causes.
“It’s a remembrance of a person,” Fisher said.
Following the formal blessing, Fisher offers to bless individual bikes, and a number of riders accept the offer.
“Motorcycle groups have a diversity of theology,” Fisher said. “For some riders, the blessing is symbolic and others take it more seriously.”
It’s part of an overall practice that includes having small figures, or other items, as good luck charms on the bike. Fisher was given an icon of Virgin Mary by a woman and told that if he carried it always, he would be safe.
“I carried it with me and shortly after, I was hit,” Fisher said. “My bike was completely totaled, but I walked away. I don’t know if the icon had anything to do with it, but I don’t know that it didn’t.”
The Cycle Billy Bash takes place in spring and fall, which are the beginning and end of the riding season.
The event was begun by Jarred Oberman three years ago. Oberman, who is a manager at Blue Fish Grill, thought the space on Stangl behind Factory Fuel Co. was a perfect spot for a motorcycle rally. The space is owned by the same people who own Blue Fish restaurant, and they hold a number of events in the space, including weddings.
Oberman is also the organizer of the music for Thursday Night Lights, which is held every other week in summer at Lone Eagle, Blue Fish Grill, and Factory Fuel Co., and includes live music and comedy shows.