- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2003

MILWAUKEE — Ten thousand Harley-Davidsons, their riders wearing anything from hog masks and feather boas to black leather, roared through the city yesterday in an eight-mile parade celebrating the company’s 100th anniversary.

The event was as much a tapestry of red, white and blue as the motorcycle icon’s signature orange and black. One Harley rider festooned his bike with two dozen American flags.

Willie G. Davidson — a grandson of Arthur Davidson, one of Harley-Davidson’s co-founders — and his wife, Nancy, led the parade, followed by riders on bikes toting large Harley flags representing riders’ clubs from all over the world.

“It just shows the diversity of people, how they can get together for a celebration like the Harley-Davidson anniversary,” said Bob Boyd, 67, who rode his 2003 Dyna Wide Glide Harley from his farm in London, Ontario.

Spectators and riders showed up from around the world to honor the Harley.

“It’s the 100th birthday. We thought it was worth it,” said Yasuko Harada, 31, who arrived here early yesterday from Kitakyushu in southern Japan with her son and three friends.

Others endured the rigors of campgrounds packed with thousands of saddle-weary riders, with a 90-minute wait for a shower in the morning, to participate in the four-day blowout.

“We’ve been riding Harleys for a couple of years now, and we thought it would be cool to be here for the welcome-home party,” said Vince Santangelo, 27, an engineer from Cleveland, Ohio.

Even some too young to ride yet were impressed by the spectacle.

“Daddy, will you buy me a motorcycle?” asked 7-year-old Mikayla Wilder, apparently inspired by the sight of 10,000 “Hogs,” as the bikes are affectionately known.

“Maybe if you graduate from college,” replied her father, Quinn Walker.

Some of the motorcyclists were picked to participate in the parade because they had raised at least $5,300 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Harley has a 23-year history with the association and hoped to raise more than $5 million for the group during the Labor Day weekend.

The parade was one of the highlights of Harley’s four-day anniversary celebration, which also includes motorcycle exhibits, memorabilia sales and live entertainment spread along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.

As spectators in T-shirts and shorts mingled with those in denim and leather, at least one neighbor worried about the noise. The Milwaukee County Zoo took precautions to protect its more than 2,000 animals from the roar in the parking lot just outside, where the parade began, keeping many of the animals inside until the riders were gone.

The celebration, expected to draw 200,000 to 300,000 people, concludes today with a birthday party featuring music and fireworks beside Lake Michigan.

From combined dispatch and wire reports


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