Ol’ Skool Cruisers Robert Lloyd, Kenneth Boothe, Sam White, John Lane, Derhyl Randle, Earl Elliott, Rex Huff and Virgil Drumgole show the banner their children will hold as the group rides their motorcycles in the Fourth of July parade. This photo is a combination of two taken on the same evening at the Robert Crown Center. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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They have been riding together for years, and the next trip will probably be the shortest for the members of Ol’ Skool Cruisers motorcycle club: For the first time, they will ride in the Evanston Fourth of July parade.

The 12 men have known each other for several years but organized themselves into a club only about three years ago, said Robert Lloyd. With dreadlocks and cornrows, Harley hogs and leather vests, these African American males may have some of the visuals of biker gangs, but their gentle manners, sly humor and love of a good time show no traces
of the TV show “Sons of Anarchy.” Several have served in the military – the Marines, the Army and the Navy.

The group meets once a month. “We have no rules, but we have titles,” said Mr. Lloyd. Their mission, filled in for reporters by Rob Dawg, K-Smooth, Night Train, Wiked-1 and others: “We ride; we eat; we joke; we meet people; we act friendly.”

To join, said Kevin Boothe, “You have to jump up and eat with us.”

“People who know us know the people we want,” said Mr. Lloyd. “No excessive drinking. Reckless bikers aren’t welcome.”

“The first thing for us is safety,” said Earl Elliott. Everyone wears a helmet, and on the highway the riders are staggered – the formation recommended by the State of Illinois, he added.

So when these friends in black shirts and leather vests roar their Harleys down Central Street, preceded by their children holding the Ol’ Skool Cruisers banner, this reporter recommends that parade watchers respond with applause and a roar of their own.