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Boots On The Ground

By Raven Van Pelt

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The American Legion Riders Chapter 9 and their host partner Flamingo Lake RV Resort, in support of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. (AGSM), hosted the 4th Annual Boots on the Ground Poker Run and Concert, Saturday May 7th, 2016

The purpose of this event is to memorialize our Fallen Military while honoring the Mothers who raised them to serve and to provide financial resources to aid AGMS as they support our veterans and their families. The first Boots on the Ground Poker Run started with 88 bikes and 123 riders. ALR Chapter 9 took it over on year 2 and each year it gets bigger and bigger. The 4th Annual event had 803 bikes and 246 riders, and after expenses raised over $20,000 for AGSM, with 100% of the proceeds going to the construction of the $150,000,000 Education Center at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in D.C

Over 2,500 military combat boots and fire fighter boots were displayed throughout the park, each displaying a flag and picture of a fallen warrior with their name, rank, service age, hometown and date of death. Registration started at 8:30 with the band Don’t Call Me Shirley, followed by opening ceremonies, a fly over by the Dreamland Squadron, a gun salute, and colors by the NAS Jacksonville Honor Support Team.

Riders had their choice of 11 different routes stopping at 22 different poker stops all throughout Nassau County and Jacksonville. There were over 20 vendors, and starting at 4pm Ghost Rider took the stage. Blister rounded out the night. The live entertainment was first class and bad ass. Riders were served pulled pork dinners with their registration provided by Fast Freddie’s Bar and Grill of Oceanway.

There was hundreds of raffle and door prizes, a 50/50 that raised $1,724 ($862 going to the winner) and some phenomenal auction items including a hand-made custom Harley-Davidson quilt made by none other than yours truly. It sold for $350.  There were hundreds of volunteers who came out to support this event all weekend as well and that is why it goes so smoothly each year. Not only is this the largest Motorcycle Poker Run in NE Florida, it is without a doubt the best motorcycle event I have ever attended. And for those who did not make it to this year’s Boots on the Ground, all I can say is it is an event you don’t want to miss next year.  Thank you to all who make this such a great event.

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