NUTLEY, NJ - The air was chilly and the sun never came out but it was a perfect day for a ride according to the Newark Iron Knights Motorcycle Club. Motorcycles of all varieties including Harleys and Spiders lined Highfield Lane. Bikers from all over New Jersey gathered on the lawn of Grace Episcopal Church in Nutley for the ninth annual Motorcycle Blessing and Holy Roller Run to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark.

Individuals and motorcycle clubs including Brotherhood, The Departed and Third Tradition joined the Iron Knights in on the ride that led them through the highway to the scenic Branch Brook Park in Newark and Belleville where the riders were still able to see the cherry blossoms in bloom. Overall the approximately 60 riders and passengers raised about $750 for Habitat.

“Motorcycle enthusiasts,” said The Rev. Pam Bakal as the short outdoor service began. Bakal gave the general blessing to all present, The Biker’s Blessing, “May the sun rise in front of you, may the rain fall behind and the wind follow you…” she said.

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Jeffrey Farrell of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newark thanked the crowd for the funds raised. “Nine affordable housing units in South Ward of Newark were able to be built for people who have an income of $21,000 to $41,000 year,” he said. According to Farrell the charity will also help the elderly and veterans repair their homes.  Habitat is also installing smoke detectors for these people throughout Essex County.

The Revs. Bakal and Audrey Hasselbrook blessed each individual and their bike. Bakal joined her husband Iron Knight Stewart Bakal on the back of his bike. Also riding along on his own motorcycle was their son, Evan. Road captain Iron Knight Joe “3 Card” Monte explained the route and what to do to insure for a safe trip. Jack “Blackjack” McDermott, of Belleville, road at the end of the group wearing a neon vest, keeping order and control on the road.

The riders returned about an hour later to enjoy a barbecue consisting of hamburgers, hot dogs and turkey.

“It was a nice ride through the cherry blossoms in the park this time, it was pretty,” said Bakal. “There was some traffic, but a nice ride, beautiful day for riding,” added McDermott. Monte noted it was his first time riding through the park.

“It was an excellent ride, a nice ride, but it’s unfortunate that more motorists aren’t aware of motorcycles. They don’t yield or let us have the right of way. We need to raise awareness. When we are riding in a large group we are usually doing a fundraiser for a charity or honoring a fallen veteran. We are out there for a cause. Getting out on the road in one piece and back in one piece is our goal” said Iron Knight Sgt. at Arms Boulder Head.

“Every week we do some sort of fundraiser, on June 7 we are joining the Sharing Network and raising funds for their organ donation,” said Iron Knight President George Lodato.

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