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Harleys rule at Charles Town Races event

August 01, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

RANSON, W.Va. - Charles Town Races was hog heaven for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts Saturday, when fund raising for a new fire hall for Citizens Fire Co. was kicked off with roaring engines and a hog roast.

More than 100 Harley-Davidsons - and a few other kinds of motorcycles - were parked at the racetrack for the event, which started in the morning with a parade of Harleys and fire equipment from the current station.

The Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Ride-In and Hog Roast is the first phase of Citizens Fire Co.'s Campaign 2000, a fund-raising effort to raise $1.25 million to build a new firehouse and community center, said Mary Colburn-Green, president of Marketing Solutions, which is running the campaign.

Land for the 25,000-square-foot building was purchased at U.S. 340 and W.Va. 9 for $200,000, Colburn-Green said.

The spot will give the fire company good access to the town and the residential communities it serves, she said.

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The new building - about five times the size of the current building in downtown Charles Town - is badly needed to replace a 40-year-old building the all-volunteer company has long since outgrown, Colburn-Green said.

"They can't even get all their equipment in it. They can't do training. There's not even one parking space," she said.

The Harley theme was chosen for the campaign kick-off event because the motorcycles are so popular and the fire company was lucky enough to get a hard-to-come-by model of the popular motorcycle to raffle, Colburn-Green said.

The theme also ties in with an interest a lot of the firefighters have in motorcycling, she said.

By lunchtime, about 60 Harleys were parked trackside for a "People's Choice" contest that would be judged a little later using ballots on the back of admission tickets.

The event also included a hog roast, entertainment by The Bodine Brothers Band, of Frederick, Md., and a "Leather-and-Lace Best Costume Contest."

Among the owners vying for a prize in the bike contest were friends Ronnie Harris and Alec Carroll, both of Ranson, who said they go to a lot of events for Harley-Davidson owners.

The camaraderie among Harley owners makes the events a lot of fun, they said.

"There's a lot of good people," said Carroll, 46, who said he's been riding motorcycles since he legally could, at age 16.

Before that, it was dirt bikes, he said.

Carroll, a construction worker, entered his custom Softtail Springer in the bike contest.

Harris, 42, who works in new building maintenance for the Loudoun County (Va.) school board, entered his 1995 Heritage Nostalgia.

Harris said motorcycles got into his blood as a teenager, too.

"It's a way of relieving tension," he said.

Harris said he was very impressed with Saturday's event and glad the proceeds were going to help the fire company.

"I've been living in Charles Town for 42 years and I don't remember anything like this," he said.

If the event proves as successful as organizers expect, it will probably become an annual fund-raiser for the fire company, Colburn-Green said.

The drawing for the dark green, model year 2000 Harley-Davidson Road King will be April 1 the latest, or before if all 5,000 tickets are sold, she said.

Raffle tickets can be purchased by calling 1-304-263-6009.

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