ANTES FORT - The roar of motorcycle engines echoed through downtown Jersey Shore on Sunday shortly after noon.
The procession of 217 bikers rode across the Green Bridge that spans the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, connecting Jersey Shore with the Nippenose Valley, then turned left onto Main Street, on their way to a picnic barbeque in Lock Haven.
Before the ride began the riders were part of the sixth annual "Blessing of the Bikes," held during morning services at Crossroads Community Church. The church is located at 1454 South State Route Highway 44, just a mile and a half from the borough.
Lead Pastor John Phillips administered the prayer at the end of Sunday's worship services.
"Bless our motorcycles this summer. Anybody who's on their bike this summer, I pray Father that they would be part of a special covering of your protection ... May their journey begin and end safely Lord Jesus," Phillips said.
This year's prayer service broke the previous record for bikes and attendance with 217 bikes on hand and a record number of 1,199 people attending the event.
"I hope they take away a confidence that God is going to be with them this year and that he really cares about their motorcycles ... their safety and their riding season," Phillips said.
Randy Wandell, of Lock Haven, is a member of the church and was the lead rider for the parade that followed the blessing. He has been riding motorcycles for 36 years and has been involved for all six "blessing" events.
"It's a chance to show the community that church is more than just attending on Sundays. It's outreach, it's caring about the community," said Wandell.
This is the first year the "blessing" has taken place in the new home of Crossroads Community Church. The congregation moved into the new church last fall after worshipping at the Jersey Shore YMCA for several years.
Jack and Richelle Pierce, of Nippenose Valley attended for the first time this year.
"It gives you good peace of mind, makes you feel blessed knowing God is with you when you're riding," said Jack. "I think it's awesome ... to pray over us and our bike," said Richelle.
Stacy Mincer, of Mill Hall rode his 2001, Harley Davidson "Fat Boy" to church this Sunday. "It was something different for me. A friend suggested I come today. I liked it, it was interesting," said Mincer.
The children were not left out of the blessings. Upstairs in the children's section of the church, Pastor, Jamie Bailey held a "Blessing of the Bicycles," during the Crossroads Kid's Club, held every Sunday for elementary age students.
Pastor Phillips said he is looking forward to next year when he hopes the church can break another attendance record.
"It's always the biggest attendance Sunday of the year ... bigger than the grand opening of the new location and even bigger than Easter," said Phillips.