The north side of the Neosho Square was filled with motorcycles, music, and fellowship Sunday, as the city welcomed its first Blessing of the Bikes event.
Paul Richardson, organizer of the event, said by noon Sunday the event had drawn more than 50 bikes to downtown Neosho.
The day lasted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., kicking off with the first of several motorcycle rides throughout the day, a street church service, and included live musical performances, from bands including Pit 42 and some contemporary Christian acts, and food and other vendors.
At 3 p.m., the motorcycles were blessed by Father Henry (Hank) Grodecki of St. Canera's Catholic Church.
"We're having a good event," Richardson said. "We've got good attendance, the weather's good, with this being our first year I think we're setting a pretty good foundation for times to come."
Richardson said it is a custom in the biking world to start off the riding season with a blessing.
"I ride with motorcycle ministries, so, it's a venue for us to kind of touch base with people early on in the season before the riding season starts and to be able to have contact with those people without making it a big formal thing," Richardson said. "People are receptive to a blessing event."
Adina Brown, of West 60 Cycle, attended Sunday's blessing event, and said that faith plays a large role in the motorcycle community.
"Most of the bikers that I know have a deep faith and we watch out for our own," Brown said. "Part of watching out for our own is making sure that the bikes are up and in good shape and the blessing of the bike is just an extra assurance."
Brown said it's "awesome" to see an event such as Sunday's in Neosho.
"It's about time," added Susan Gilman, also of West 60 Cycle.
Richardson said Sunday's inaugural event gave him hope for future bike events to be held on the Neosho Square.
"I'm trying to establish a venue for us for the city of Neosho, to where we could do this, and bring people into town and do it here on the square," Richardson said. "It's a community event, it's a lot of fun, fellowship and food. Judging by today's event, we'll be doing this next year."
He said he also hosts an event every fall, the "Too Cold for Ice Cream Chili Run," which is usually held at the bike shop he owns, Sane Mule Motorcycle Trade Co., located on Highway H near Granby. However, he is now considering relocating the event to downtown Neosho.
"Due to the participation today and the way everything's working out, I will probably move my event to the square in the fall," Richardson said. "I'm going to talk to the (Neosho) City Council, and then we're going to try to have chili cook-off and bring that event in here also."
Page 2 of 2 - Richardson previously went before the council to gain permission to close down one block of the square for Sunday's event.
The council also voted, with councilman Charles Collinsworth dissenting, to waive city ordinance for Sunday, to allow Sam's Cellar to hold a beer garden in front of their establishment on the square, to be a part of Sunday's Blessing of the Bikes.
While Richardson was the organizer of Sunday's event, he said it was also made possible with the help of sponsors including Oak Ridge Gun and Pawn, Studio 2, Sane Mule and Motorcycle Trade Co., Hideout Harley- Davidson, and the support of West 60 Cycle and Shoot 2 Thrill.