Love Ride roars into 29th year, raises $440K for charity

With an ear-splitting roar, hundreds of motorcyclists cruised down San Fernando Road on Sunday morning for the 29th Love Ride.

Organizers billed the annual event as the longest continually running motorcycle rally in the country “and maybe the world,” in the words of founder Oliver Shokouh. Shokouh, the owner of Glendale Harley-Davidson, started the event in 1984.

Participants began arriving as early as 5:30 a.m., with hundreds on hand by 7:30 a.m. to catch the music of Strawberry Alarm Clock, which delighted the leather-and-tattoo set with the 1960s anthem “Incense and Peppermints.”

Those who continued on to the main event in Castaic Lake were treated to performances from George Thorogood & The Destroyers — whose 90-minute set included “Bad to the Bone” and selections from his new album — and Canned Heat. Organizers estimated the total attendance at around 4,000 people, and said the event raised more than $440,000.

Shokouh spoke a bit past 9 a.m. from a stage crowded with local politicians and celebrities — including Jay Leno, Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero and Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LeBonge — adjacent to the Glendale dealership.

Leno, who served as the ride’s grand marshal, wasted no time ribbing the elected officials on stage, saying they attended “in the space between indictments.”

“Indictments but no convictions,” retorted Quintero to laughs from the crowd.

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the USO. Many of those who spoke asked the crowd to pray for the safe return of those serving overseas, for the fallen, and those who have come back traumatized by conflict. The USO has long provided support and services to servicemen and women as well as to their families.

Though the 40-mile ride to Castaic Lake traditionally starts in Glendale, the event is supported by 22 Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout the Southland. The Love Ride has raised nearly $25 million for various charities in its nearly three-decade history, organizers said.

The majority of the funds raised came via tickets to the ride, which were $45 per person in advance and $50 at the door. Organizers sold raffle tickets at $10 each for a 2013 Harley-Davidson Softtail Slim and several other prizes.

Quintero, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran, bought a lemon-lime and purple Triumph Bonneville in what he termed the “hippy days” of the 1970s. He said Monday that he still rides a silver Honda 750 he bought in 1979, and said his son, also named Frank, bought him a Harley-Davidson Nightster 1200.

“I’ve always said bikes are cheaper than psychiatry,” he said.

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