Rain doesn’t dampen spirits of elderly Issaquah Harley riders

Entering its 23rd consecutive run Saturday, the Harley Davidson motorcycle rides at Issaquah's Providence Marianwood were only canceled once due to weather — the result of a snow storm several years ago.

Entering its 23rd consecutive run Saturday, the Harley Davidson motorcycle rides at Issaquah’s Providence Marianwood were only canceled once due to weather — the result of a snow storm several years ago.

“All the other times it’s cleared up,” said Diane Bixler, event cofounder.

Much to the dismay of residents, bikers and staff, heavy rain finally got in the way of the nursing home’s biannual event. Soggy conditions presented too many safety concerns for organizers, forcing a last-minute cancellation.

Resident Elsie Stephens didn’t let the disappointing news stop her. With several bikes already on site, she asked to be hoisted up on the one of the hogs. Grinning from ear to ear, she leaned forward and grabbed both handlebars as if she was ready to take off.

Others, like Jackie Palmquist, did the next best thing, posing next to the bikes under cover of Marianwood’s entry way.

“I think it’s just fun, I really do,” said Palmquist, who was looking forward to her fourth consecutive ride.

Ken Lee of Eastside Harley Owners Group said he loves coming out to the one of a kind event. This was the seventh year in a row the Redmond resident has volunteered time to give seniors rides on his Harley.

“It’s great meeting the residents and seeing how enthused they get about it,” he said. “It’s especially great when we drive them around, they get real big smiles.”

While this spring’s event was marked with disappointment, there will be another chance for residents to ride in the fall. Since launching the event in 2002, Providence Marianwood has partnered with area Harley riders twice a year — in April and September. As the first of its kind, Marianwood’s Harley rides have inspired several similar events around the country.

“They love it,” said Andrea Abercrombie, event organizer and therapeutic recreation specialist. “The folks that don’t want to ride just love having them here and talking to them and having lunch with them. They think it’s awesome.”

Jackie Palmquist hoped to take her fourth ride on a Harley, but weather got in the way. She still had a great time.

Fran Mongelli is thrilled at her chance to pose with a Harley.

Marie Bass didn’t get to go for a Harley ride like she hoped, but she was thrilled to pose with a bike and a couple of riders.