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Big crowd roars in for Bike Nite in Williamsport

July 18, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • A crowd ambles among some of the motorcycles on display Saturday at Bike Nite 2010 in downtown Williamsport. The merchant show was organized by Bruce Logan, owner of Highway Song Leather, and Bill Green, owner of The Reptile Club.
Alicia Notarianni, Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT -- It was shiny chrome and handlebars as far as the eye could see Saturday at Bike Nite 2010 in downtown Williamsport.

A crowd of people packed the streets, many of them clad in black and denim with leather accessories.

The air was thick with humidity, exhaust fumes, and the sounds of thundering engines and whining guitars.

"It's a madhouse. That's what we want. That's the way we like it. We're having a blast," said Bruce Logan, Bike Nite organizer and Highway Song Leather owner.

"Excitement is in the air. You can feel the electricity when you walk through the street," he said.

"It's one of the most anticipated events in Williamsport."

Bike Nite co-organizer Bill Green owns The Reptile Club in Williamsport.

Green said a few years ago, the town offered merchants the opportunity to showcase their businesses.

"I do snakes, so there is not much I can do," Green said. "(Logan) wanted to do a bike show, so I offered to help him."

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At the first show three years ago, Logan said he counted around 900 motorcycles. Green figured there were twice as many people in attendance as bikes.

Last year, there were more than 1,500 motorcycles. Saturday, just an hour and a half into the event, volunteers in charge of keeping track were at 3,200 bikes and counting.

"In just three years, you can see how big it got. It was just a merchant event starting off small and all the sudden, we're packed," Logan said. "I knew it would take off, but not this soon. This year, Williamsport adopted it as an official Williamsport event, so it should go on for the next 50 years."

Green said the event began with a Poker Run. Motorcyclists paid $10 to participate, then drove from one bar to another, picking up a poker card at each stop.

The motorcyclist ending with the best hand won 15 percent of the pot. The remaining proceeds -- around $450 -- will go to the Abilities Network, a nonprofit agency that provides services for individuals with disabilities.

People in need locally would benefit as well, Green said. He and Logan planned to donate money from T-shirt and raffle ticket sales to the area food bank, to individuals with burdensome medical expenses and to others.

Larry McGowan Sr., 37, of Greencastle, Pa., wore a four-and-a-half-foot ball python around his neck. With him were his wife, Bea McGowan, 32, and their four children. The couple said they have traveled to shows in Pennsylvania, Maryland and South Carolina to check out custom bikes and take pictures, but they had not been to the Williamsport event before.

"It's bigger than we expected," Bea McGowan said. "It's nice to have this a show like this in this area."

Jason Davenport, 30, of Chambersburg, Pa., said he works as a parts manager at M & S Cycles Suzuki and Honda in Chambersburg. He said he was impressed by some of the vendors at the show, especially Savage Cycles, a Frostburg, Md.-based custom chopper shop.

"(Savage Cycles) is pretty awesome. It's top notch," he said. "I'd heard the name before, but it's my first time seeing it firsthand."

Davenport said he and his wife, Angela Davenport, 28, initially went to the event so she could enter the bad tattoo contest.

"We expected there to be maybe a couple hundred people," Jason Davenport said. "Then, we got here and we're like, 'Wow. Check this out.' There are a lot of people here. We didn't realize the show would shut down the whole town."




Editor's note: This story was edited Tuesday, July 20, to correct a reporter's error about Jason Davenport's place of employment.

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