Documentary explores charitable Blessing of the Bikes

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Grand Valley State University will host the premiere screening of a short documentary film about the annual Blessing of the Bikes event in Baldwin, that benefits charitable programs in Lake County.

“The ‘Original’ Blessing of the Bikes”, will have two screenings Thursday, March 27,  at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., in Loosemore Auditorium, DeVos Center, 401 West Fulton, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Admission is free, with donations accepted to support Meals on Wheels in Lake County and other programs helped by the Blessing of the Bikes.

Begun in 1972 with four bikes and eight riders, the annual Blessing of the Bikes event brings motorcycles and riders from throughout the country to Baldwin to receive a blessing for a safe riding season. The entry fee of $5 helps Meals on Wheels to feed the people of Lake County, the poorest county in the state. The event, organized by the Para-Dice Motorcycle Club in Grand Rapids, has grown to as many as 40,000 bikers, drawing the attention of outside entities who have tried to capitalize on the success.

The documentary was produced by Allen Bialk, a Grand Valley custodian who owns a home in Baldwin, with help from faculty, staff and students from the university’s Film & Video program. More than two years in the making, the documentary tells the story of the “original” Blessing of the Bikes and the tremendous amount of good it does for the community. Bialk is concerned that the original mission of the Para-Dice Motorcycle Club might get lost as outside groups attempt to take over the event.

The film also features music by The Crane Wives, a home grown indie-folk band from Grand Rapids, whose members are all Grand Valley alumni.  The screenings are sponsored by the School of Communications and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Half the proceeds from the sale of the film’s DVD will be donated to the charities supported by the Blessing of the Bikes event. Donations may also be made directly to St. Ann’s Church in Baldwin, which manages and distributes the funds.

For more information, visit www.blessingofthebikesmovie.com.