LACONIA – After extending early birthday wishes to his widow, hundreds of riders in the Peter Makris Memorial Run roared forth from the Naswa Resort on Saturday to raise money for a veterans’ charity and to mark the official start of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
The Memorial Ride honors Peter Makris, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former Belknap County Attorney, who with his wife, Hope, and daughter, Cynthia, made the Naswa world-famous.
Makris, who died in 2007 at 82, helped create the Laconia Life Saving Fund, along with the late Peter Blizzard and the late Jack Irwin, who were fixtures in Laconia’s boating-sales community,
The Fund helped the Laconia Fire Department get a boat and start a dive team. It also has supported the local Community Emergency Response Team, Building Dreams for Marines and The Belknap House homeless shelter in Laconia.
Additionally, Makris was a major benefactor of Veterans Count, the philanthropic arm of Easterseals Military and Veterans Services.
The Memorial Run’s mission dovetailed with the Derry-Salem Freedom Riders’ efforts to support both veterans and New Hampshire state troopers, said Tom Mosson of Windham.
That’s why he came up to Laconia Saturday.
Mosson, a builder of several homes in nearby Gilford and a former property owner in The Weirs section of Laconia, the epicenter of Motorcycle Week, said he has attended seven Memorial Runs and was thrilled to meet and speak with Makris’ wife.
As a club, he said the Derry-Salem Freedom Riders participate in events like the Memorial Run “to show our support, that’s what it’s all about.”
During a ceremony before the Memorial Run, which started with a lap around the Magic Mile at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and continued with the traditional ride around Lake Winnipesaukee, Ken Erickson called Makris “a true patriot.”
Erickson, Laconia’s retired fire chief, said Makris was the catalyst for the Laconia Life Saving Fund, bringing Blizzard and Irwin aboard for it.
Tim Callahan, of the Veterans Count Lakes Region chapter, said his organization “gives vets a hand up, not a hand out.”
The Rev. Marc Drouin of St. Andre Bessette Parish, provided the Memorial Run blessing, which he began with good wishes for Hope Makris, who in June celebrates “96 and-a-half years of life.”
Drouin then asked God to give the riders the “dexterity they’ll need on blind corners and sandy curves,” before praying that their rides will be filled with “wonder and safety.”
Hope Makris said she was very happy with the turnout on Saturday.
Asked if she worries that people might forget her late husband, she looked around at the many riders, including members of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club to which he belonged, and replied: “How can you forget him?”