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Bikers honor fallen firefighters


Special to The Press

New Tripoli recently became a mecca for motorcyclists and their bikes as they crowded into the parking lot at the New Tripoli Fire Station to participate in the Zach and Marvin Memorial Ride.

Originating at the fire station, the riders rendezvoused at Schaeffer’s Motor Sports in Orwigsburg, where they met up with other riders, before turning around and heading back to New Tripoli.

“We’ve got twice as many bikers as we thought we would have,” said firefighter Earl Ostrander, addressing the crowd before the ride began.

“It’s a real nice ride, a staggered formation.

“Stay tight, as tight as you can, and be safe.”

The memorial ride celebrated the lives of Zach Paris and Marvin Gruber, fallen heroes who lost their lives in service to the community in December 2022 fighting a house fire in Schuylkill County.

“It was awesome to see so many come out to honor Zach and Marvin’s lives with us at the fire company,” fire police Lt. Sid Madtes said.

“Marvin’s son is riding his bike.”

Just after 7:30 a.m. sirens blared, and the bikers were off.

Some four hours later, at Ontelaunee Park, four New Tripoli fire trucks, with lights flashing, were stationed at the entrance of the park to welcome the bikers back to town.

At one of the trucks, large portraits of Gruber and Paris, flanked by flags and fire gear, reminded everyone of the reason for the event.

Around noon, a siren sounded, and the procession of motorcycles rolled past the portraits into the park, circling in what seemed to be an endless stream of bikes.

“It was a great, great turnout,” said Anna “Boots” Remmel from Palmerton, one of the riders. “Everybody was safe, and the police did a great job.”

“I’m prior military and to me, firefighters and police all deserve recognition.”

“A lot of police came out, even from Philadelphia,” said Tom “Hobo” Olsen, her companion.

“Big Earl put this together quick, and the turnout was great.

“I’m ex-military and this was for two guys who passed away doing their job.”

PRESS PHOTOS BY ANNA GILGOFF Friends Dan Ham, Joe “Smokey” Ferris, Jeff “White Wolf” Bailey, John “Tail Gunner” Fronczak, and Mike “Gator” Keogh from Lancaster exchange friendly banter before mounting their bikes.
ABOVE: At the entrance of Ontelaunee Park, the portraits of Marvin Gruber and Zach Paris served as a reminder of the great loss suffered by the families and community.
RIGHT: The memorial bike run began at the New Tripoli Fire Hall before 8 a.m. July 22. PRESS PHOTOS BY ANNA GILGOFF
Palmerton residents Anna “Boots” Remmel and Tom “Hobo” Olsen were among the bikers participating in the Memorial Ride for fallen firefighters Zach Paris and Marvin Gruber.
After assuring safe exit for the bikers leaving the fire hall parking lot, Sid Madtes was finally able to grab some chow at the Good Egg food truck.
Motorcycles parked in front of the New Tripoli Fire Hall for the ride.
Bikers headed for Orwigsburg where they were joined by another group of riders participating in the memorial ride.