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Estrada to lead 'Bike Night' ride

July 21, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Actor Erik Estrada, best known for his role as Francis "Ponch" Poncherello, a California Highway Patrol officer on the hit TV series CHiPs, will be "leading the ride" for Bike Night 2009 in Martinsburg next month.

"I watched him catch many a bad guy when I was a kid," said Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Lt. Ron Gardner, one of the organizers of the Aug. 15 charity motorcycle event.

Registration for the event will be from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Berkeley Plaza shopping center parking lot off U.S. 11. The fee is $10.

Estrada, 60, agreed to make an appearance while he was in Winchester, Va., to serve as grand marshal of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival this spring, Gardner said.

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Now in it's seventh year, Bike Night 2009 is sponsored by Main Street Martinsburg and the West Virginia Chapter V of Blue Knights International, a nonprofit motorcycle club of retired and active law enforcement officers.

A member of the Blue Knights chapter who was part of Estrada's security detail in Winchester, Va., asked the actor if he would make an appearance, Gardner said.

Proceeds generated by the actor's autograph sessions before the ride starts at Berkeley Plaza and then during festivities in downtown Martinsburg at the end of the ride, will be donated to Hospice of the Eastern Panhandle in the actor's name, Gardner said.

The Blue Knights Chapter donated $9,000 to Hospice last year and $39,000 in the last five years, officials have said. The event also benefits Main Street Martinsburg's efforts to revitalize downtown Martinsburg.

Hospice of the Eastern Panhandle is a private, nonprofit community program that provides in-home hospice services, bereavement support, and education and training to people in Berkeley, Hampshire, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

CHiPs followed the lives of two motorcycle police officers of the California Highway Patrol. The series ran for 139 episodes over six seasons from 1977 to 1983.

More information about Bike Night can be obtained by contacting Main Street Martinsburg executive director Randy Lewis at 304-262-4200 or rlewis@mainstreetmartinsburg.com.

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