News Item: Bikers flood Hollister despite ban of annual rally
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by
Friday 30 June 2006 - 13:31:32

Motorcycles are roaring into Hollister for the legendary annual pilgrimage to the town Marlon Brando made famous in ''The Wild One.''

Just one problem: Officials called off this year's rally months ago.

The event, which has brought tens of thousands of bikers into town every July 4 weekend to ride and drink and pay tribute to the mystique of the outlaw biker, was declared too expensive and too dangerous by city officials. After forking over $250,000 for crowd control and other law enforcement costs last year, the City Council in February voted 3-2 to pull the plug.

Undeterred by that decision, bikers are revving their engines, vendors are ready to hawk leather chaps and fully-booked hotels are preparing to handle the onslaught of bikers and gawkers. A divided community and resilient bikers have made this year's event one to watch.

"It's a dirty, stinking, rotten event," said San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill. "This year, we have a dirty, stinking, rotten non-event."

Hollister was put on the map after a 1947 motorcycle melee led by World War II veterans was dramatized in Life Magazine and later popularized in the Brando film. The town has been a popular destination for motorcyclists since. In 1997, the city contracted with the Hollister Independence Rally, a local nonprofit, to manage the event. Last year, the organizing group filed for bankruptcy after the rally, leaving the city stuck with the costs of putting on the event.

For the first time since 1997, Hollister has refused to issue licenses for vendors to sell wares on public streets. But the town's seal of disapproval may even bring out more riders. ''A lot of us stayed away from it because it got so commercial,'' said Glenn ''Reb'' Courtney, a member of the Roughriders Motorcycle Club, who rolled into town at the beginning of the week. ''Now we're back.''

How many will make their way to the rally remains unclear. Estimates range from 10,000 over the weekend to 30,000 people downtown each day.

Some expect chaos. The main drag through downtown, San Benito Street, was closed except to motorcycle traffic last year. With the city refusing to close streets this year, the risk of accidents could rise as motorcycles and cars try to navigate streets filled with people. "This year is a free-for-all," said Charisse Tyson, an owner of Johnny's Bar & Grill.

Police will be out in full force starting today. The city has budgeted $150,000 to control the crowds this weekend.

http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/news/14937410.htm


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