blockbuster brings thousands downtown
By BRANDI BARHITE
SANDUSKY - The
North Coast Thunder Rally on Saturday evening attracted record numbers, or
at least felt like it did. The block party was so successful, downtown
almost wasn't able to accommodate the thousands of motorcycles purring and
rumbling into downtown. With nearly 60 food and merchandise vendors --
twice as many as last year -- taking up precious space needed for the
hogs, even those watching the parade began to wonder where everyone would
At least 1,500 bikers participated into the parade, not
including the countless bikes already in downtown by the time the party
started at 5 p.m. "Here they come, here they come," Mark and
Darla Clemens announced as they watched for the bikers making their way
downtown via Columbus Avenue. The couple waved and cheered as the bikers
came into downtown, where flames also welcomed the bikers. We love to come
down to the festival every year," Darla said. "There are bikes
Will Roeder, co-owner of Roeder Harley-Davidson and
organizer of the North Coast Thunder Rally, estimated nearly 10,000 people
at the block party.
"I have never seen it so packed," Roeder
yelled over the noise of the motorcycles.
His wife and business partner, Julie Roeder, said the
rally was renamed Ohio Bike Week this year as the event grows larger
and larger every year.
Big crowds of bikers starting coming to Sandusky in 1999
when the sanctioned Harley Owners Group had its state rally in downtown in
1999 and 2000. Because the city of Sandusky and local bikers didn't want
the party to end, North Coast Thunder Rally was born.
Will Roeder said bikers from Arizona, California and
Florida participated. He doesn't know how many of them were in the area
anyway for Cedar Point, but is
glad for the support.
"I think it is awesome to have something like this up
North," said "Mad Max" Perez, who couldn't get over
something so great being in Ohio.
Port Clinton biker Tom Turner was in downtown selling
T-shirts and promoting Hogs by the Bay. There will be a rally Sept. 9 in
Port Clinton. He hopes to attract as many to his city as Sandusky has. But
it might be a challenge....