Motorcycles Blessed During First Blessing Of The Bikes Event

Volunteers of the Blessing of the Bikes gather in the parking lot of the Abundant Grace Church on Indian Hill Road, Toms River. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

TOMS RIVER – Motorcyclists came from as far as Trenton and Egg Harbor Township to have their Harley-Davidson and other motorbike models blessed by Pastor Anthony Storino of the Abundant Grace Church on Indian Head Road.

While the tradition of motorcycles being blessed for safe travel began some 100 years ago, according to event coordinator and parish member William Bintliff, this marked the first time for it to be held at the township church.

Bintliff said that more than 30 motorcycles and around 40 visitors came out to the church during the blessing event which ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event featured some live music, food and other vendors.

Photo by Bob Vosseller

“This is our first blessing event but we’ll definitely be doing this as an annual event,” Bintliff said.

Bintliff added that due to the unwelcome rain of the morning “we had a cancellation of our kettle corn dealer,” noting that the event also featured vendors to make it more of a community event.

Toms River resident Annie Willets, one of around 30 volunteers, said the event featured a dozen craft vendors and some booths aimed at the needs of motorcyclists.

“We were expecting about 100 motorcycles,” Blintliff said. The rain, however, put a speedbump in the road for some travelers. “If we had 70-degree weather the parking lot would be filled.”

Despite the weather, those present were enjoying a good time. Bintliff said that cyclists across the county and beyond came out for the event. “It was a good event and a good cause,” he added.

“We had one group come out early this morning from Trenton on their way to another activity in Rahway. It makes for a nice ride day,” Bintliff said.

“This is more of a Christian outreach. We’re more concerned about saving souls than raising funds. The Blessing of Bikes began at a Catholic Church about 100 years ago. This event also shows how motorcycles riders come from all walks of life,” said Blintiliff, who is a Harley-Davidson rider himself.

Photo courtesy Abundant Grace Church

“The motorcycles actually come into the church in many cases but our church just got new floors,” Bintliff said with a laugh.

“Usually, the blessing of bikes happens during the month of April at different churches but we felt we’d be safe with warmer weather in May,” Bintliff said.

“It made for a good outreach,” Pastor Storino said. “We will definitely be doing this again.”

“We’d like to see some slow steady growth and it will make for a good community project. People see motorcyclists in a certain way. They are often stereotyped but I’ve found that your average biker is charitable, God-loving and devoted to our country,” Bintliff said.

Bintliff noted the many motorcycle clubs who offer up their time for veteran funeral escorts, support Ronald McDonald House and other good causes such as Habitat for Humanity.

“It isn’t just the money they donate but the time they give to help people,” Bintliff said.

Bintliff recalled a former annual charity event that utilized the parking lot of the Freehold Mall as a staging area by hundreds of cyclists. “It filled the parking lot but after a while, it couldn’t accommodate the number of cyclists who came out. That is the kind of people they are and we’re happy to have them come by here and for the pastor to bless their bikes for a safe journey on their many travels ahead.”

For information about next year’s event and other community events at the church e-mail