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The West Coast Thunders On

The annual motorcycle ride returns after a three-year hiatus, but nothing about it will nbe the same for this writer.

Dr. Ron Pardee, this publisher's father, waving to his family while riding up Arlington Ave. during the the 2019 West Coast Thunder.

After a three-year hiatus, the West Coast Thunder Memorial Day Motorcycle Ride is back tomorrow. Waking up earlier than we wanted to on a holiday Monday morning to grab donuts, Chick-fil-a breakfast biscuits, and seats along the Thunder route has been a family tradition for as long as my children can remember. I love it because it reminds me of how I felt as a boy growing up in Riverside in the 1980s, standing with my family and neighbors on Magnolia Ave., watching parade floats make their way downtown.

The official line about the hiatus is that West Coast Thunder stopped "due to restrictions surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic." But I never bought that. It felt appropriate that the loudest Monday morning in Riverside every year went silent following my dad's death. For three years, Memorial Day Monday mornings in Riverside have lay quiet, and our family invented new traditions that don't explicitly remind us of our Papa and instead honor his commitment to forging unbreakable love.

West Coast Thunder is roaring back this year, and so will the Pardees.

Life is precious, and we won't miss a chance to be out with our neighbors, celebrating this city's great traditions, devouring a dozen glazed donuts from Steve's (7201 Arlington Ave), and cheering on the riders and their monstrous engines. I, for one, will make friends with the part of my heart that will stand longing to see our Papa ride around the corner and slow down to wave at his family.