Published DateLACONIA — Amid unprecedented fanfare, the 90th running of Motorcycle Week was kick-started yesterday with a gala celebration billed as a press conference in a cavernous beer tent at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound.
The event, emceed by Cynthia Makris of the Naswa Resort, took for its themes, the joy of motorcycling in New Hampshire together with the philanthropic character and economic impact of the rally. These were echoed in the remarks public officials and rally patrons speaking from the podium and portrayed in videos entitled "We Ride," "We Care," "We Support" and "We All Benefit."
Ann Deli, who with her husband Steve owns Laconia Harley-Davidson in Meredith, struck the tone by describing the rally as "a collaboration of hearts and minds" aimed at "giving back to the community and helping people in need."
Makris noted that 90th rally will include Saturday's 7th annual Peter Makris Memorial Ride, which in its first six years raised $185,000 for the Life Saving Fund and Water Rescue Team of the Laconia Fire Department as well as the Veterans Count program of Easter Seals NH.
This year the ride will be accompanied by two new charitable initiatives to raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Hampshire. Deli announced that Laconia Harley-Davidson aims to raise $30,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region by raffling a 2013 Street Glide model, painted and striped by Russ Mowry of Candia, whose artwork has been revered by motorcyclists since 1958. One-of-a-kind, the bike is emblazoned with "90th Laconia" to mark the milestone anniversary.
Laconia Harley-Davidson and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon have partnered in an effort to leave their mark in the Guiness Book of Records by raising the most money ever from a motorcycle event, $76,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Hampshire. Bikers will have the opportunity to turn a lap at the speedway then take a 32-mile ride around the Lakes Region.
Ridden into the Lobster Pound tent, the 90th Anniversary Street Glide took center stage, flanked on either side by four other Harley-Davidson motorcycles, each representing one of the eight Boys and Girls Clubs to benefit from the ride.
"The 90th anniversary," said Deli, "is an opportunity to celebrate the rich tradition of motorcycle riding but more importantly, it is the perfect venue to highlight the motorcycle community's deep-rooted philanthropic passion."
Charlie St. Clair and Jennifer Anderson of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association presented the Fritzie Baer Award for contributions to the success of the rally to attorney Paul Fitzgerald. As mayor of Laconia Fitzgerald led the effort that transformed what had become a somewhat unruly weekend into the week-long celebration of motorcycling that honors the tradition Baer established.
The even was capped by remarks from Governor Maggie Hassan, who noted that in 2012 the rally generated $100-million in economic activity. She said that what began as a weekend in Laconia has grown to a nine-day event that draws visitors from across the country ands around the world to not only the Lakes Region but the entire state, echoing the theme of "we all benefit.".