WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — For more than a quarter of a century, motorcycle-riding veterans making an annual cross-country pilgrimage to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., have taken time to stop in Rainelle.
What began by happenstance when the vets decided to bypass the tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike in 1989 has evolved into a sort of Memorial Day weekend-long festival in the tiny Greenbrier County town.
But a local veterans group says the 26-year tradition is coming to a halt. Addressing the White Sulphur Springs City Council on Monday evening, Ray Erskine of the Spa City chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) said the nonprofit organization Rolling Thunder has “pulled out” of the Rainelle stop, citing a disagreement with Rainelle Mayor Andrea Pendleton.
Erskine asked White Sulphur officials to join in his group’s effort to redirect the hundreds of veterans and supporters who pass through West Virginia on their way to the Wall into the Spa City. He said VVA members have already approached city merchants and secured pledges of support, noting it “would be a plus” to get the Rolling Thunder bikers to stop in White Sulphur.
Telling Erskine that city officials all “appreciate what you’re doing,” Spa City Mayor Lloyd Haynes cautioned, “We want to get all the logistics right.” Beyond the logistics, however, Haynes emphasized that White Sulphur doesn’t want “hard feelings” with Rainelle…