There are several bicycle blessing events across the country; all wonderful, and none of them connected to each other, as far as I know. Here’s how THIS one came about:
A long time ago my nice Jewish mother mailed me a very small newspaper article about a motorcycle club in Connecticut that does a ride every year to a shrine for a Blessing of the Motorcycles. And 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.
Years later the idea came back to me for some reason, and I decided to approach the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in NY, because it’s the most beautiful cathedral around in my opinion, and because it has a good reputation for being open-minded and for supporting the community.
So I made some phone calls and set up an appointment. I sat down with Herb Katz, the cathedral’s PR guy, and the The Rev. Canon Jay Wegman in one of the offices next to the cathedral.
Herb Katz, one of the creators of The Blessing of the Bikes.
After some pleasantries the Reverend asked me exactly I had in mind. I was VERY nervous -- was I about to insult these two nice guys? I mumbled a lot until the Reverend finally said, “Would you like us to sprinkle Holy Water on the bikes?”
“CAN WE DO THAT?” This is exactly what I wanted, and exactly what I was scared to ask for. What do I know about the intricacies of the church? What if they were terribly offended?
“Sure,” said the Reverend.
We talked about WHERE to hold the ceremony -- the front steps, the loading dock (!!!)... by now we were walking through the main cathedral and we stopped to talk to The Very Rev. Harry H. Pritchett Jr.. We told him what we were thinking about and he said, “Well, why not do it right here in the main cathedral? I jog in the cathedral when it’s too rainy out for running, so I don’t see why you can’t bring the bikes inside.”
At the first Blessing of the Bikes our now departed friend Paul Sullivan whispered to me, “Nice job.” Coming from him, this is the highest compliment I have ever received for a bike event.
And that’s how it’s been ever since. We’ve had a few changes of Reverends as they take on other assignments, and Herb Katz has retired as the Cathedral’s PR guy, but all credit is still due to the staff of The Cathedral -- the event is only possible because of their support.