Last ride for Seattle police motorcycle team's drill master

SEATTLE - The Seattle Police Motorcycle Drill Team roared through West Seattle for the Seafair Parade on Saturday morning, displaying their usual precision and showmanship.

But this time the performance was capped with a few tears - in an emotional last ride for a Seattle motorcycle officer.

The next time the team rides, it will be without their longtime drill master John Bernasconi.

"Thirty-seven seasons, 37 years - at least 20 a year," says Bernasconi. "It's a thrill for them, and it's a thrill for us - especially the little kids, they just have a blast."

Now Bernasconi is retiring, after more than 40 years on the police force - hanging up his helmet after a nearly flawless run as a lawman and showman.

"We practice on our own time, and it's great. These are a great bunch of guys," he says.

His wife Cindy and daughter Alexandra have been to almost all his performances.

"A lot of hard work. A lot of dedication," says Cindy Bernasconi.

Adds Alexandra Bernasconi, "It's just a huge milestone. I mean, 43 years is a long time to do anything."

Unlike all those other parades, the one on Saturday stopped so the guys he's mentored and the colleagues he's worked with could say thanks, and goodbye.

"After he starts hugging everybody it's cheerful - and it's very sad - but we're very happy," says his wife.

John Bernasconi says he will miss his team.

"But I'm ready. I'm ready to let it go," he adds.

And ride off to his next passion.

His wife doesn't expect him to slow down - she says she fully expects him to spend a lot of time playing golf.