Riders gearing up for 19th CT United tribute ride

Riders in the 19th Annual CT United Ride September 8 will notice some new rules in effect. The rule changes are intended to enhance safety and to keep riders in the spirit of the day, according to Executive Director Fred Garrity.

The ride, which begins in Norwalk at 8:30 a.m., will roll non-stop with a police escort through 10 towns before ending at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. Before the ride, there will be a commemorative ceremony featuring Gov. Ned Lamont and and representatives from Connecticut’s U.S. senators. Congressman Jim Himes and numerous state officials and mayors are also expected to be in attendance.

Starting this year, riders who begin the event must complete the entire 60-mile ride, Garrity said.

“Riders are not allowed to leave the motorcade unless for emergency medical or engine trouble,” Garrity said. “Riders who leave the motorcade during the ride leave huge gaps and increase the likelihood of cars unsafely entering the line.”

The other new rule is that participants are expected to be respectful to all speakers, regardless of their political party affiliation.

“Unfortunately the negative actions of a few require us to implement this new rule,” Garrity said. “This is a 9/11 tribute for the victims and heroes. Any participant whose conduct is rude or disruptive to any of the speakers during the remembrance ceremony will be removed from the lineup and not allowed to participate, with no refund, and permanently banned from participating.”

Garrity said the ride attracts between 3,000 and 5,000 riders and 15,000 spectators along the route. Firefighter and law enforcement groups come from as far north as Maine and as far south as Virginia, as do other supporters not affiliated with emergency responders, Garrity said.

In addition to the riders and spectators, more than 100 fire trucks will be placed along the route, with 24 aerial trucks holding 50-foot American flags over the roadway in each town.

Registration is $30 per rider and $30 per passenger. Riders may sign up at a pre-ride gathering Saturday, Sept. 7 at Captains Cove Seaport from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration on Sunday begins at 8:30 a.m. at Norden Industrial Park, 10 Norden Place in Norwalk.

The opening ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. and will feature the Connecticut Firefighters Pipe and Druj Corps, and a moment of silence where the Norwalk Fire Dept. will ring its bell 11 times. Once the ride departs about 100 police will escort the riders in a nonstop 60-mile line. Drivers must wait for the entire motorcade to pass. Motorcyclists also will not be allowed to enter to procession during the ride. Police will strictly enforce this, Garrity said.

The motorcade starts 11:30 a.m. from 10 Norden Place, Norwalk and proceed down Route 136 to Route 33 through Westport, to Wilton Route 7, to Route 107 in Georgetown. It will then proceed to Route 58 in Redding, to Route 302 Bethel, to Newtown Route 25 through Monroe, to Main Street Trumbull, to Old Town Road, to Park Avenue in Fairfield, continuing on Park Avenue through Bridgeport to Seaside Park, arriving at about 1:15 p.m.

The ride is Connecticut’s largest 9/11 tribute, the largest ride in New England, and the largest fundraiser for fire and law enforcement in the state.

“For those that lost their lives, for those that gave their lives, and for those that continue to put their lives on the line each day - that’s why we ride,” said Garrity.