Moonlight Loop Evening Bicycle Ride raises money to brighten animals’ lives

You don’t have to love animals to participate in Columbus Animal Care Services’ fourth annual Moonlight Loop Evening Bicycle Ride, though it is highly encouraged.

More than 300 people are expected to ride in this year’s event Aug. 5. The ride raises money for the city’s Animal Care Services pet adoption and medical fees.

Riders will take off from the Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza, located at 536 Fifth St., Columbus, at 9 p.m. Local police officers will escort bikers on the 19-mile nighttime tour via city streets.

“What makes this different is you get to see Columbus lit up and after dark at a speed where you can really take it all in,” said Nicohl Birdwell Goodin, Animal Care Services general manager. “I also consider the beauty of the event to be its appeal to both bicyclists and animal people — and even better if bicycle people are also animal people.”

Last year’s event was postponed due to rainy weather. The rain date attracted 271 riders and raised $12,471 — a record total for the ride.

Since the event started in 2014, more than $30,000 has been raised for Animal Care Services. Birdwell Goodin said no goal is set for this year’s race, but the center always hopes to surpass previous totals.

Everyone is required to wear helmets and install lights on their bikes. A Light Up Your Bike, Light Up the Night contest will be held to determine who has the most well-lit bike as an incentive for riders.

“We ask folks that live on the ride route to turn on their outside lights to help light the way and bring out their lawn chairs to cheer everyone on,” Birdwell Goodin said. “The atmosphere can be very festive.”

Organizers said animals are not allowed to accompany a rider unless secured safely in a bicycle wagon or trailer in order to keep both pets and riders safe.

Also, for the second year in a row, Columbus Animal Care Services is partnering with the Columbus Park Foundation and ColumBIKE, the city’s bike-share program. Riders who do not own a bike or want to avoid the hassle of transporting their bike can rent a bike at a discounted cost of $6 for the Moonlight Loop Ride. Reserve a bike by Aug. 2 by emailing customerservice@columbike.org.

In order for the event to run smoothly, Birdwell Goodin said several volunteers are needed. Volunteer tasks include setting up, tearing down, directing traffic and leading registration. If interested in volunteering, call 812-376-2505. Volunteers will receive a free event T-shirt.

For more information on how to get involved as a rider, volunteer, sponsor or spectator visit columbus.in.gov/animal-care-services/moonlight-loop/.

How to register

Registration fee:

– $25 through July 22

– $30 through Aug. 3

– $35 on event day

To register, go online at columbus.in.gov or visit the Animal Care Services Center between 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Online registration ends at 11:59 p.m. Aug. 3. All riders must be 16 years old or older to participate.

The fee includes a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt and covers the cost of support vehicles and refreshments throughout the ride.

Where the funds go

All funds from the Moonlight Loop Evening Bicycle Ride support the Adoption Medical Fund, which covers everything from spaying and neutering costs to pet care services, as well as veterinarian services and pet food.

If you cannot participate in the ride, but would like to donate, visit the Columbus Animal Care Services center at 2730 Arnold St.

About Columbus Animal Care Services

Columbus Animal Care Services is the city’s animal shelter. The center takes in stray animals and pets given up by their owner within the city limits of Columbus.

While Columbus Animal Care Services’ general operating budget is funded by city tax dollars, the Adoption Medical Fund is supported by fines, fees and monetary donations. Donations made to the center are tax-deductible.

For more information, visit columbus.in.gov/animal-care-services.