By Lisa Kava
Are you a cyclist looking to mark the beginning of a new season in a unique way? Or a scooter rider who is excited that spring is finally here? Those who enjoy getting around the city by bicycle or other “forms of human-powered vehicles” are invited to a special ceremony on the Upper West Side this Saturday.
The 24th Annual “Blessing of the Bicycles” will be held inside The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street, on Saturday April 30th from 9 – 10 AM.
At the ceremony, The Reverend Patrick Malloy, Canon for Liturgy and the Arts and Sub Dean of the Cathedral, will sprinkle “Holy Water” on each bicycle and offer a blessing to “jumpstart a safe cycling season.” A moment of silence in remembrance of cyclists lost during the past year will take place after the blessing. At the end of the ceremony, all in attendance will ring their bicycle bells to mark the new cycling season.
The event was founded in 1998 by Glen Goldstein, president of Bicycle Shows U.S., a company that organizes bike trips and rides. His mom had sent him a newspaper clipping about an event called Blessing of the Motorcycles. “Like all good Jewish sons everywhere, I rolled my eyes when I saw yet another newspaper clip coming in from my mom, threw it away, and promptly forgot all about it.”
Some years later, the article clipping came back to Goldstein as he thought about doing a similar event with bikes. He decided to approach the Cathedral of Saint John because “it is the most beautiful cathedral around, in my opinion, and has a good reputation for being open minded and supporting the community.”
The Blessing of the Bicycles is open to “everyone who gets around town on a bike, scooter, skates, unicycle, or other form of human-powered vehicle,” of all religious backgrounds. In past years, hundreds of cyclists representing a variety of religions participated.
The ceremony, which is free, was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blessing of the Bicycles is scheduled to take place the day before BIKE NEW YORK, The Five Borough Bicycle Tour. Attendees are encouraged to bring their cameras. Face masks and proof of vaccination are required.
The event will be “short, fun, silly, spiritual, and heartbreaking,” Goldstein told West Side Rag in an email. He is humble and does not want the ceremony to be about him. “I’m proud to be the person who thought it up and made it happen, but on Blessing Day, I don’t want to be the star of the show – I’m just some guy who helps out where I can.”
For more information click here.