Prison Run

There were only about 50 riders on Pinal Parkway early Sunday afternoon for the annual Florence Prison Run.

FLORENCE — There was a Florence Prison Run Sunday afternoon, but if you blinked you probably missed it.

There were only about 50 riders cruising back and forth by the prisons on Pinal Parkway in Florence. There were no tickets or arrests, Police Chief Bruce Walls said.

For decades, hundreds of Harley-Davidson motorcycles roared down the highway on a Sunday afternoon in February. Last year’s prison run was much quieter than in past years after local law enforcement told event organizers they would begin seeking reimbursement for traffic control and related services.

“Each year, the cooperating agencies spend tens of thousands of dollars in overtime costs in order to pay for the law enforcement presence necessary to ensure the event runs in a smooth and safe manner,” town spokesman Ben Bitter said at the time.

The Florence Prison Run began decades ago when a motorcycle club began an annual ride past the prisons as a salute to its incarcerated members. That club was later absorbed into the Hell’s Angels. But the tradition continued and became a public event, resulting in riders of all stripes taking part.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.