SHIRLEY -- The Annual Shirley Fire Ride that firefighters from Hose Co. #1 organize every year might not be their biggest fundraiser in terms of participation or the till take, but it is arguably the flashiest, as enthusiasts from all over gather at the main fire station, rev up and ride out together on their big shiny bikes, engines purring like road-hungry lions.
Police escort included, it's quite a show.
And all for a good cause.
This year's ride is set for Sunday, Sept. 9. "We chose a Sunday this year" rather than a Saturday, as in the past, said Shirley Fire Dept. Lt. And Hose Company member Bill Poitras. "So that's a twist."
Here's another: A percentage of proceeds from the ride will go to the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Fund, with plans to set some money aside to erect a fallen firefighter statue in front of the fire station.
Hose Co. #1 funds also go to local and regional school scholarships, town athletic programs and the Shirley Friendship Fund, which assembles gift baskets for local families during the holiday season, as well as firefighter training and the department's in-town training facility.
The ride's 76-mile route leads the group out of town and back, looping through several local towns. It leaves the fire station at 11 a.m. and wraps up around 2 p.m. at American Legion Post No. 183 on Church Street, where an after-ride cookout will feature "music, food and fun for all.
The selectmen, as they do every year, granted the Hose Co. a one-day liquor license for the cook out.
Registration time on the day of the ride -- Sunday, Sept. 9 -- is at 9:30 a.m. The fee for single riders is $25; doubles $30. A food-only ticket to the after-ride event may be purchased for $10 per person. Checks should be made out to Shirley Hose Co. #1, 8 Leominster Road, Shirley, MA 01464.