GARDINER — After Scott Hubbard died on his motorcycle, the club he rode with start riding each year in his honor.

The third ride for Hubbard, which merged with a blessing of motorcycles now in its seventh year, was held Saturday morning as part of the Greater Gardiner River Festival.

It was the kickoff to the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Whatever Family Festival, an annual series of celebrations in riverfront communities whose main event at Capitol Park in Augusta is set for Saturday.

In Gardiner, Saturday was also the first day of business for Frosty’s Donuts, which chose the city for its for fourth location. There were a number of activities during the day ahead of nighttime fireworks.

Hubbard, 45, died in 2011 after a motorcycle crash in Vienna. He went off Townhouse Road, flipped the bike and was ejected off his seat. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

After that, the Greater Augusta chapter of Fire and Iron, a club made up of firefighters that Hubbard often rode with, decided to start the ride.

“Scott was a great guy. He’d help anybody out and he was always a happy guy,” said Doug Ebert, of Farmingdale, president of the club’s Greater Augusta chapter. “You never saw him mad.”

The ride started at Gardiner’s Waterfront Park, headed to Wiscasset and Topsham, then doubled back to Gardiner’s Water Street Grill, where a barbecue awaited riders. Organizers said over 100 motorcycles were in the ride. All proceeds go to a fund that supports those injured while riding motorcycles.

The blessing has been going on ever since Jack Fles was pastor at Christ Episcopal Church. Fire and Iron started the ride in 2011 after Hubbard’s death and Fles was removed in 2012, but he was the motorcycle club’s chaplain and continued the event.

Michael Longfellow, 31, the tattooed pastor at First Baptist Church in Hallowell and chaplain for Central Maine Defenders, a law enforcement motorcycle club, addressed the crowd before the ride, saying the biker community often acts “as the church should,” calling it members generous, loyal and kind.

As the motorcycles left for the ride, Fles blessed them with a squirt of water. Longfellow said it meant that “you want God’s blessing on your bike and on your life.”

But Shawn O’Connor, a Fire and Iron member from Belgrade with a patch on his leather vest indicating his nickname, “Bossman,” wasn’t here for the blessing.

“I’m here for the ride,” he said. “That’s the best part.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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