Sunday, July 07, 2013

Famous Hollister Bike Rally Returns After Five Year Absence: Big Success

My small, rural town of Hollister, California is most famous for the great biker rally of 1947.  Well actually, it became known as the Hollister Riot.  Biker gangs filled the downtown area over the July 4th weekend of 1947, getting drunk, racing their bikes, making noise and breaking things.  According to some, the bikers didn't harm, rape or rob anyone, and didn't destroy any private property.  The whole thing was blown out of proportion, they say, by the San Francisco Chronicle looking for headlines.  A famous photo in the Chronicle shows one drunken biker sitting on his motorcycle surrounded by a sea of empty beer bottles.  The scene was staged, the bottles gathered, a cycle borrowed, and a drunk shanghaied to play the biker.

Maybe so, but Hollywood decided it would make a great movie:  biker gangs take over small California town, terrorize the populace, and create havoc!  So in 1953 they made a film about it, called "The Wild One," starring a young Marlon Brando as the chief protagonist and rebel.  (One lady character asks him "What are you rebelling against?" The Brando character replies, "What've you got?")
Bikers in Downtown Hollister
In any case, the July 4th Hollister Biker Rally became an official event, and for many years bikers (mostly on Harley Davidsons) have flocked to our small town every July 4th to party, party, party, fully welcomed by the town.  Bring money.  Then one year the Hollister City Council added up the revenues, costs and expenses and learned they were losing around $100,000 per rally.  So the rally ceased, at least until private promoters could be located to fund the event.  This year they did that.

The Hollister Biker Rally took place over July 5th and 6th this year, and the town filled with thousands of brilliantly painted and decorated Harley Davidson motorcycles.  There were booths, street vendors, food vendors, bands and even a couple of prostitutes, all watched over by an army of local cops from surrounding towns and counties.

This was the most successful biker rally that I have seen here.  People really enjoyed themselves, and I think the addition of many different bands (of the musical variety) was a major factor in that.  Twenty different bands took turns playing at three different locations, providing a variety of music.  My favorite was the eight piece latin-based band in the Civic Auditorium, a band seemingly modeled after Santana.  They are called "the Chicano Allstars" and played Santana favorites, latin jazz, and some Sam and Dave soul tunes.

Of course, there was lots of flesh on display, an unofficial contest of biker ladies on who can show the most cleavage without getting arrested.  Aye Chihuahua, I'm a leg man but found myself almost persuaded to convert.  This may require further study while Mrs. Chomper is looking the other way.

1 comment:

Earl Docks said...

So that staged photo is what started the whole list of biker gang fights. Now back in the spotlight because of what happened recently in Waco. What a world.