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Third annual City Center Bike Night 'great economic driver'

July 05, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com
  • Motorcycle riders enjoy the kick off to Hagerstown Bike Week with City Center Bike Night in downtown Hagerstown Friday.
Colleen McGrath / Colleen McGrath

The low growl grew louder as the first in a mass of motorcycles began rolling into downtown Hagerstown on Friday for the third annual City Center Bike Night.

There were Harleys and Yamahas and Suzukis and more in metallic shades showcased in parking spots lining four blocks surrounding Public Square.

Bike Night, sponsored by the city of Hagerstown, was part of the three-day Hagerstown Bike Week, which runs through Sunday.

East and West Washington streets and North and South Potomac streets were down to one lane Friday between 6 and 10 p.m. to accommodate the assemblage.

Karen Giffin, the city’s community affairs manager, said she expected between 400 and 500 motorcycles to turn out for the night, which ran in conjunction with The Maryland Theatre’s first installment of the season’s Wind Down Fridays.

At 6 p.m., the three-piece band Prophets of the Abstract Truth, led by saxophonist Carl Disque, played for an audience in The Maryland Theatre courtyard to kick off the season.

The five-piece ensemble Steel Rose was slated to follow.

Space sales from the 12 motorcycle and food vendors benefited the theater, Giffin said.

“It’s really a great economic driver — it brings people in, brings people to the restaurants and everybody gets to enjoy Hagerstown,” Giffin said of Bike Night.

Debbie Foltz, 48, of Hagerstown said she has been riding motorcycles for about 30 years.

“You meet a lot of different people — it’s like one big family,” she said.

Her 78-year-old father-in-law has been riding for about twice as long.

“Everything,” Ralph Foltz of Hagerstown said of what he enjoys about riding. “Takes my mind off everything else.”

Jeanne and Max Avey of Hagerstown, who are part of the Christian Motorcycle Association, have attended all three Bike Nights.

“It’s just the idea of the air blowing and the freedom,” said Jeanne Avey, 72, of why she enjoys riding.

The couple ride their Suzuki Boulevard motorcycle with the local CMS chapter Kingdom Heirs.

“We all have the same interests,” Avey said of the 50- to 60-member group that congregates the third Saturday of each month for breakfast and a motorcycle ride.

Friday’s event also was sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, according to Jessica Green, operations manager for The Maryland Theatre.

“Our hope is that the community supports the downtown restaurants and sees how welcoming the downtown can be,” Green said of Wind Down Fridays and Bike Night.

Wind Down Fridays, which this year feature many new bands, will be held rain or shine through September, she said.

Ed Maliskas, 64, and Judi Maliskas of Hagerstown found themselves in City Center on Friday not for an interest in motorcycles, but because “things were happening.”

“We like downtown,” Judi Maliskas said after the couple dined at the newly relocated El Paso Mexican Restaurant. “We wish more was happening downtown.”

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