23 Years of Family Friendly Thunder
Intro by Randy Twells
Every year in June since 1995, the pilgrimage takes place with bikes and classic cars –and people- massing by the thousands in the Antelope Valley, making a Thunder for good that is felt all year by 30 community service organizations and charities in the Valley who serve disadvantaged children facing daunting hardships and challenges. But show bikers a way to help, and man do they step up!
Making it more fun is Ron and Yvette Emard’s goal, thus Thunder on the Lot a few years back added the Friday night Cruise-In to the weekend’s activities, and Quick Throttle’s Steven Adams got out on Lancaster Blvd. this year to capture some awesome machines showing off with open headers etc. Normally that’s a no-no on the street, but for this event it’s OK to make some THUNDER!
Then local Antelope Valley photographer & reporter K. Ross Way captured a look at Saturday afternoon & evening main event at Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park (renamed from Lancaster City Park) including Saturday night concerts. Here is Ross’s account:
2017 Thunder on the Lot Saturday Night Concerts
by K. Ross Way
The show opened just before sunset on a perfect High Desert summer evening with Smooth Sounds of Santana. As tribute bands go, these guys were right there – going out of their way to musically reproduce the vibe and tonality of Carlos Santana. Their set covered every phase of the Santana experience from when he was a kid playing at Woodstock in the summer of ’69 up through his more recent hits. The crowd was right there with them with dancing up front and a laid-back, enjoyable filling the seats. The ambiance was pleasurable, and the music was perfect for a sunset concert in the park.
Gods of Thunder, the KISS Tribute headliners for the evening came on shortly after dark. These guys had their costumes nailed down, and even without the giant globe light “KISS” backdrop, it would have been unquestionable which band they were paying tribute to. Only minutes into the show, the front of the stage was packed with Kiss enthusiasts armed with iPhones and cameras itching to get that one great shot. Gods of Thunder didn’t disappoint when it came to putting you into that epic ‘70s arena concert atmosphere. Their stage presence and dramatics were right on the money. They really put their hearts into it to leave the crowd screaming for more. -K. Ross Way
Then, we wondered what the Gods thought about playing at Thunder. Paul Delis of Gods of Thunder says, “We have performed at one other motorcycle festival held in Mancos, CO for 2 years. We performed there twice and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We don’t ride but I’ve been wanting to get a Harley for many years. One day I hope to get one. I want a Sportster because I’m not a big guy and a bigger bike might not work well for me. We do love the classic cars that are always on display at these events as well as the custom bikes. It’s obvious they love them and a lot of blood, sweat and tears (not to mention) money goes into them. It’s their passion just like GODS OF THUNDER is to us!! It is our first year performing at Thunder on the Lot. Our experience was absolutely amazing. TOP NOTCH all the way around. From our first contact to our actual performance….TOTAL PRO all the way!! The crew, stage hands, sound and lighting engineers were some of the best we’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. We were completely pleased and it made our performance at the event so easy. Everyone treated us with the greatest respect and Thunder on the Lot benefiting Kids Charities in Antelope Valley made this a special event for us personally. We got the ROCK STAR treatment again….hospitality, the motor coach we had at our disposal. All we can say is THANK YOU to everyone involved with this event. Thanks also to the sponsors that have kept this event going for 23 Years!! All of us at GODS OF THUNDER sincerely Thanks EVERYONE and GODS OF THUNDER LOVES YOU!!! Rock N Roll!!!”
‘Paul Stanley’ – Gods of Thunder
Then, Quick Throttle’s Gary Anderson did….
A Sunday in the Park… at ‘Thunder on the Lot’
Story & Photos- Gary Andersen
There are times in life where the cause is the priority. ‘Thunder on the Lot’ is one of those causes. I left Burbank around 10:30am Sunday June 11th with the sky in its June gloom mode, overcast and cool, so actually great for riding. I like the cooler weather when it is overcast. We will all be baking soon enough. As I was riding to Lancaster to attend this year’s Thunder on the Lot, I was looking at the hillsides, seeing the green still clinging to them, with full knowledge that by next month it will all be brown. So it put me in a mood of gratefulness that today’s event will be a nice cool day in a fully shaded park.
‘Thunder’ is a 3 day combined car and motorcycle event in the Antelope Valley that is attended by thousands and while some policies can be considered annoying (such as the ‘no colors’ requirement) it must be remembered that this is a fundraising event for disadvantaged children, so whatever misgivings I have about that rule, the cause outweighs my opinion.
As I parked my bike on the grass, volunteers were there to quickly put a piece of wood down for your kickstand to rest on so your bike doesn’t sink in the soft grass and fall over. They also had combined wrist and bike bands so that when leaving they checked to see if your bike and wrist bands matched, making sure you were riding out on the same bike you came in on. The day was a bit windy but manageable and now the sun was playing hide and seek. I did the usual walking around looking at the vendors to see if there was anything I couldn’t live without and of course checked out the food court. After downing some wonderful caramel covered almonds and some hot dogs I was ready to check out the show.
I slowly walked amongst my childhood memories as I gawked at ‘60’s Impalas and Mustangs, some Novas and Fairlanes, the CadilIacs, VW’s, Model T’s and old trucks. I remember these cars like yesterday and it always makes me smile when someone has done a total restoration to perfection. Antelope Valley Harley-Davidson had a display of the new 2017 line to remind me that this was also a biker event, along with the vendors and the wonderful stunt performers (Monte Perlin’s Ball O’Death and Stunt Farm) who never cease to thrill me with their antics and skills. There was also a Poker Run and Bike Show on Sunday to fill the lineup.
On the other side of the park they had a fun carnival area with all the games kids love and they were out having a ball, winning stuffed animals, showing their wonderful smiles for all to see.
Kids Charities event beneficiary organizations had their displays & volunteers right here too so you could interact with them and find out what they do, and how they spend the funds & support they receive.
The music this year on Sunday was awesome both on the main stage and the secondary stage. Tribute bands tried and true were here, with Led Zepagain, Wanted (Bon Jovi Tribute Band) and Tiffanee Jenee starting it all out with a powerful voice and great musicians to bring her music to life. After a while I sat and people watched, and after seeing all the happy faces and kids having fun, I realized again that the cause is the priority.
After all, that’s why we are here and why this run was founded. Ron Emard has been doing this since 1995 and along with his wife Yvette Emard the Director of Kids Charities of the Antelope Valley they have raised over 4.8 million dollars over the years. That’s dedication to a great cause. –Gary Andersen Add’l photos by Yvette Emard.
Every year at the end of the day Sunday the $100 Raffle winners are drawn at the Main Stage. This is one of the many ways funds are raised; this year’s fundraising amount was $190,000, putting Thunder on the Lot’s 23 year total fundraising just over the FIVE MILLION DOLLAR MARK!
While the total funds raised were not tallied by the closing of the event on Sunday, an important announcement was made, that this would be Thunder on the Lot’s final year, as both Thunder and Kids Charities conclude their run.
In Ron Emard’s words, “In life, everything has a beginning, middle and end. Thunder has run its course and it is time to cease activity. The power of Kid’s Charities and Thunder has been the mobilization of so much community support and philanthropy.”
Ron added, looking forward, “Even as Thunder ends, these forces do not disappear and can now be invested in other important community activities.” And quoting the press release issued, “The other large event produced by Kid’s Charities, GraceFest, will be spun off and run independently of Kid’s Charities through a new faith-based nonprofit.”
Congratulations on 23 years of Thunder and all it has accomplished FOR THE KIDS, and we look forward to hearing what new opportunities for doing good arise in the Antelope Valley!
Here are this year’s $100 Raffle Winners:
2016 V-ROD HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLE – by A.V. Harley-Davidson
Manuel Escoto – Tehachapi, CA
$25,000 IN-GROUND ROMAN SWIMMING POOL – by AquaPhina Pools
Patricia Oliver – Lancaster, CA
CUSTOM HONDA CAR FROM ROBERTSON PALMDALE HONDA – by Robertson Palmdale Honda. Graphics by Squirty’s Collision Center
Rosa Ramirez – Palmdale, CA
ORIGINAL PAINTING ON METAL BY WORLD FAMOUS CHRIS DERUBEIS
Henry King – Rosamond, CA
YAMAHA TTR 110 DIRT BIKE – by Palmdale Super Cycles
Mike Maxon – Vista, CA
RUGER LCR 38 SPECIAL – by The Vault
Ileana Domiguez – Palmdale, CA
AV FAIR GOLD CIRCLE CONCERT PACKAGE – by A.V. Fairgrounds
Carlene Hadden-Martinez – Lancaster, CA
THUNDER MEMORABILIA & SPORTS PACKAGE – by Ron Emard & Budweiser
Kathy Wilkerson – Palmdale, CA
1 HOUR JET HELICOPTER RIDE & FLIGHTDECK AIR COMBAT CENTER – by Mark Norris and Flightdeck Combat Center
Won by Mark Justiniano
2017 Thunder Bike Show Class Winners:
• Best of Show- Anthony Robinson, 1969 Triumph T-100
• Runner Up- Louis Johnson, 2003 Road King
• Vintage- Jeff Bryant, 1955 Hydra-Glide
• Cruiser- Skylar Gray, 2007 Deluxe
• Sport- Steve Fuentes, 1979 Yamaha RD400
• Women’s Ride- Christine Gilroy, 2008 Softail
• Specialty- Davin Link, 2012 Honda Rucks
• Touring- Darren Allen, 2016 Road Glide
• Modified Touring- John Lopez, 2005 Road King
• Chopper- Tiger Villanneua, 1991 Softail
• People’s Choice- Johnny Degen, 2012 FXDB