For the 64th year running, the annual Philadelphia Hero Thrill Show will soon be celebrated to help raise funds to educate the children of fallen heroes.
On Sept. 12, 75 members of the elite Police Highway Patrol Motorcycle Drill Team displayed their finery during a pep rally to raise awareness of the upcoming Hero Thrill Show, to be held on Sept. 22 in South Philadelphia.
Riding 75 motorcycles, the group made a grand departure and the motorcade procession went on a lap down Market Street from 18th to 19th streets. Hero Thrill Show motorcycle riders are required to undergo weeks of training to perform in the event.
The grand marshal of the 2018 Hero Thrill Show will be famed Philly music mogul, musician, producer and educator Kenny Gamble, co-founder of The Sound of Philadelphia and Universal Charter Schools. The oldest retired Philadelphia police officer and firefighter will also be in attendance during the show.
Hero Thrill Show: all for a good cause
All proceeds from ticket sales at the Hero Thrill Show, as always, will go toward post-high school education costs for the children of local police and fire families who lost a loved one in the line of duty.
The annual event had dropped in popularity, and by around 2005 was attended by just 400 people a year, and was close to being shuttered by its previous operators. But after current Hero Thrill Show chairman Jimmy Binns, an attorney, stepped in to run the event in 2006, it has skyrocketed in popularity – attracting a reported crowd of 25,000 to the 2016 event, which is held outside the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
Performances include daring feats by police and firefighter motorcycle drill teams, K9 units, SWAT and bomb squads in stylish rides, as well as giving kids a chance to learn more about firefighting equipment.
The tradition was started in 1954, after 10 Philly firefighters were killed during a chemical plant explosion fire in North Philly. A fire and explosion at the former Charles W. Berg Laboratories at 5th and Berks streets killed deputy chief Thomas A. Kline, battalion chiefs John Magrann and John J. News, and firefighters Bernard Junod, Joe Vivian, Tom Wilson, Lt. Charles Holtzman, Jimmy Doyle, Joe Bandos and James Tygh.
As of 2017, at least 23 children had their college educations paid for by proceeds from the Hero Thrill Show, with more expected in the future.
The 64th Annual Hero Thrill Show will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, at noon, outside of the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., in South Philadelphia. Tickets are $10 per person, $25 per family (up to five people). For more information or tickets, visit herothrillshow.org. (Hero Thrill Show, Inc., is not associated with Hero Scholarship Fund, a similar charity in the Philly area that formerly ran and operated the Hero Thrill Show).