DRAPER — The Festival of Roses at Saint John the Baptist Church in Draper kicks off the parish festival season in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Besides being the first of the year, the event has a unique component: a motorcycle ride known as the Vulture Run.
"The people who participate in the bike ride, they have a lot of fun," said Monsignor Terence Moore, St. John the Baptist pastor. "They go out there – I don’t know how many miles they travel – but then they come back to the festival and they all eat together, and socialize. There’s the roar of all those bikes coming in on campus. It generates a lot of ‘Harley power.’"
The ride was the brain child of Mike Zaffino, a St. John the Baptist parishioner who has been riding motorcycles since childhood. "The first year we did it, there were a lot of raised eyebrows," he said, but "it’s gotten bigger every year. It’s a staple at the festival. It generates a lot of interest in the church and it generates a lot of money for the church. The riders eat, they buy raffle tickets, they buy beer, they attend the silent auction."
All of the money from the festival goes to pay down the church debt, Msgr. Moore said, adding that another benefit of the Vulture Run is that many riders come from outside the parish community, and the event draws them to the festival when they otherwise might not come.
This year the ride will start and end at the festival, with three stops in between: the Corner Pocket in Tooele, the Garage on Beck Street, and Club 48 in Murray, where lunch will be served.
"It’s not going to be real long – about 130 miles, maybe about five hours’ time, with the stops," said Mike Julian, another parishioner.
Julian, who helped start the "Ride for Life" motorcycle ride sponsored by KUTV to benefit the Ronald McDonald House and Christmas Box House, agreed to help Zaffino organize the Vulture Run this year. "It’s always been a fun run," he said. "I had a guy come up and he thought because he didn’t ride a Harley-Davidson he couldn’t ride in the run, and I said, ‘No. It’s not a Harley-Davidson ride. Yeah, probably 80 percent of the bikes are going to be Harleys, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting together. It’s not even just the Catholic community. We’re inviting everybody. It’s open to anybody who wants to come."
The $25 registration fee includes lunch, a poker hand and a chance at raffle prizes. Registration may be done the day of the event or in advance online at www.sjb-parish.org. The ride will leave the Festival of Roses at the Skaggs Catholic Center, 11800 South 300 East in Draper, at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 19.
In addition to the Vulture Run, Zaffino also organizes a motorcycle raffle. This year the prize is a 2012 Harley-Davidson Heritage Soft Tail Classic from Timpanogos Harley-Davidson. Tickets are $100 each; only 300 tickets will be sold.
For tickets, contact Zaffino at 801-598-9022 or Julian at 801-598-4910.