Hundreds of thousands of motorcycles roared as they arrived at the nation’s capital on Sunday to participate for the last time in the final Rolling Thunder and pay tribute to those killed in action or taken as prisoners of war.
The annual event has announced last year that 2019 would be the last Rolling Thunder in DC because the costs of covering the ride are too high, with the event costing around $200,000 in all sorts of related expenses.
Rolling Thunder spokeswoman, Nancy Regg, told CNN that it was a tough decision to make.
Organizers have announced that instead of one big ride, various chapters will organize regional events to honor service members who were killed in action or who were prisoners of war.
This year was the 32nd ride since the event first took place in 1988.
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However, as hundreds of riders attended the last Rolling Thunder, President Donald Trump said that the event WILL continue next year.
Later Sunday, Rolling Thunder President told CNN that the group was still planning for this year’s ride to be the last one in Washington.
“This is our final ride in Washington, DC. Until we can get into the White House and talk to President Trump and see what he can do for us — this is our final ride in Washington,” Bean said, after being read Trump’s tweet by CNN’s Kirsten Holmes.
The President spoke at Rolling Thunder in 2016 during his presidential campaign, and he also tweeted on Saturday:
Rolling Thunder works with Pentagon in planning the event, and the Pentagon said last week that the group doesn’t pay for full expenses, but only a portion instead.
“All outside events pay fees to use the Pentagon Reservation. The fee includes costs for overtime for security and reimbursement for clean up after an event. Rolling Thunder, Inc. pays only a portion of the total costs incurred by the Pentagon to support the event,” Sue Gough, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, said in a statement to CNN.
According to group organizers, the plan to hold regional events instead of going to the capitol next year still stands but they are open to conversation with the President.