Erie, Pa. -- Great White, KIX, Leader of Men, Vanilla Ice, Drunk in Memphis, Slaughter and Chrome provided entertainment this past weekend as thousands of bikers and bike enthusiasts gathered in Erie, Pa., for the city's popular yearly bike rally.
The unmistakable roar of engines and the smell of leather filled the streets of the Great Lake community for the 6th Annual Roar on the Shore. The event began on Thursday, July 19, at Perry Square in downtown Erie.
The festival officially opened following a motorcycle parade through downtown streets by grand marshal Vanilla Ice and a praising of the organizers -- the Manufacturer & Business Association -- by Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott.
Festivities on day 1 included Yamaha demo rides, introductions of the Miss Roar on the Shore contestants and the presenting of the Honor and Remember Flag. The flag, a visible reminder to all Americans of the lives lost in defense of freedom, was presented to the family of U.S. Army. Cpl. Jarrid King, 20, of Erie. King was killed on Jan. 12, 2011, in Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit.
"Every family is different, every family deals with grief differently, but what we're finding out is that when this Honor and Remember Flag is in the mother and father's hands, its brings a sense of closure, not totally, but a closure that their son is being honored and never to be forgotten by America," said Skip Geisaka, coordinator of the Honor and Remember program.
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The blazing afternoon sun turned into a driving rainstorm Thursday night, but that did not stop thousands of fans from attending a 9 p.m. headline performance by Great White. The hard rock band did not disappoint and easily whipped the crowd into frenzy, proving they maintain a large and loyal contingent of die-hard followers.
The rally bounced back to life again Friday and Saturday and proved to be a big success. Clear skies and warm temps were on hand and the festival drew its normally large crowd, as people jammed Perry Square and its surrounding streets toe-to-heal and tire-to-tailpipe to sample foods and purchase items from the dozens of vendors that were on hand.
Bikers and bike enthusiasts could buy not only motorcycles and motorcycle helmets, but everything from leather jackets to custom chrome handle bars to alligator skin seats – all at reasonable prices.
Craftsmen were at the rally to show off skills in various fields, ranging from pin striping to custom illuminating. Several celebrity bikers were also on hand to the delight of attendees. They included Harley-Davidson riding chef Biker Billy, freestyle Moto X rider Trevor Vines and Rick Fairless of Strokers Dallas.
Dozens of other events took place during the rally, including bike runs, a Harley-Davidson bike raffle and the crowning of Miss Roar on the Shore. The winner of the motorcycle -- a custom 2012 Harley Dyna Super Glide -- was Cecile Elfman, 54, of Lakewood, N.Y. The winner crowned Miss Roar on the Shore was 33-year-old Shannon Dodds of Wesleyville.
The 80s rock band Slaughter performed in front of a large crowd Friday night and local Erie band, Leader of Men, kicked off Saturday with a charsmic tone-setting performance. They were followed by another local band, Chrome, and then the heavy metal band KIX, who commanded the stage with an unforgettable performance that climaxed the three-day festival.
An estimated 80,000 people, from across the U.S. and abroad, came out to celebrate the annual festival this year, which came to an end after three days of fun and excitement with a blessing of the bikes Sunday morning.
Rally organizers told The Huffington Post they are pleased with the outcome.
"As one of the fastest growing free rallies in the U.S., we were absolutely thrilled with this year’s event," said Roar on the Shore spokeswoman Tammy Polanski. "Those attending for the first time couldn't get over the warm welcome from the Erie community."
Organizers were also likely happy that early suppositions by Noise Free America -- that the event would be full of "anti-social behavior and lawlessness" -- were unfounded.
The rally may be over for now, but it will return in 2013 and many with whom The Huffington Post spoke said they are anxious to attend the next one.
"We had a fantastic time and are already planning a trip up for next year," attendee and long-time biker Todd Bowers, of Hollywood, Fla., told HuffPost.
Fred Morin of Toronto, Canada, agreed.
"I have been coming every year for the past five years and plan to continue coming as long as I can. It gets bigger and better every year. This is definitely one rally that bikers and music fans alike don't want to miss."
For information on next year's Roar on the Shore, visit www.roarontheshore.com.