PAINESVILLE — Edward Tacacs’ voice started out strong as he read a poem written by friend Jesse Stroud, but somewhere in the middle the seasoned biker nearly lost his voice — the words written in front of him swam in the tears he struggled to hold back.
The honor of reading a dead man’s words became too much of a burden on his vocal chords.
“I knew Jesse, he was one of my best friends,” Tacacs said. “To read this poem for him today was an honor I can’t express. It just means so much to me.”
Tacacs read his friend’s poem to thousands of bikers on Sunday at the 30th annual Louie Run, held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Painesville.
Named to honor the late Louie Ivcovic, a nonriding member of the biker community who owned the popular Peppermint Stick Lounge, an establishment in Mentor open to bikers, the Louie Run is known as the official opening event of northeast Ohio’s riding season.
The Louie Run was first held at Ivcovic’s graveside in 1983. The Louie Run raises money to benefit families of those who died or were injured in motorcycle accidents.
Joyce Di Donato’s face grew solemn in the spring sunshine as she listened to the 340 names of friends, family, comrades, who died in motorcycle accidents on Ohio roadways.
“We come every year,” she said. “We have way too many family and friends on the memorial wall.”
Debbi Dorsey of Richfield attended the first Louie Run. She returns year after year to see the memorial wall and remember those who were lost.
“I thought back then, at the first run, that it was a nice tribute to people who ride, especially because that was a time when not everyone welcomed bikers,” she said. “Bars hung signs that said ‘no colors’ meaning no bikers. But Louie was different. He treated us with respect.”