Mayor declares 2016 rally a success with large crowds, few issues

Riders go along San Benito Street at the 2016 Hollister Independence Rally.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, the key proponent in reviving the motorcycle rally in 2013, declared the 2016 event a major success due to larger-than-expected crowds and no major crime incidents.
“The new promoter did a great job,” Velazquez said Tuesday while on a family vacation after the rally. “Now we’re going to see the turnaround.”
Velazquez didn’t have attendance numbers immediately available but said the crowds were a lot bigger than city officials had expected.
“The biggest hiccup was just bathrooms,” the mayor said. “That was just because there were a lot more people than we expected.”
This year, the rally had another new promoter, the third in four years. In the agreement with promoter Reno-based Roadshows, which runs the Street Vibrations events there, the promoter agreed to pay $135,000 to cover city costs such as police, fire and public works. The promoter also agreed to collect city business license fees and sales tax revenue totaling an estimate of $45,000.
Once the late-planned event arrived—city council members narrowly sanctioned it in February—it was smooth sailing. Crowds were relatively consistent and worked their way through what looked like a more cohesive layout than prior years, with vendors on San Benito Street, three beer gardens keeping those crowds somewhat diluted, and demo rides on the event area’s outskirts.
As usual with the event commemorating the 1947 “invasion” of Boozefighters portrayed in the Hollywood classic “The Wild One,” thousands of bikes lined San Benito Street and rally-goers perused their favorite motorcycles. Motorcycles revved morning to night throughout the weekend. Variations of leather jackets and souvenir T-shirts dominated a vendor landscape that also included such offerings as insurance promotions, sunglasses and beef jerky.
As for the fresher meats, the local fire department union held a barbecue fundraiser next to the downtown station offering tri-tip, polish dogs, hot dogs and nachos.
“Everybody coming by for the food’s been great,” said Capt. Jeff Grannucci after he stopped by for a bite.
Over at the Bethany Church barbecue, Eric Payne manned the cooking station featuring ribs, tri-tip, chicken, hot wings and hot dogs. His takeaway in his first trip to the Hollister rally was “a lot of bikes.”
“I’ve been working,” he said while hustling at the barbecue, “so I haven’t had a chance to walk around.”
Others were riding around at the demo stations such as the one put on by Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, which made its first known appearance at the West Coast rally where thousands of the company’s customers flock.
Christina Kutsch, who works in consumer event marketing for Harley, was at the demo lot and mentioned how visitors could go on rides taking them from Hillcrest Road, to Fairview Road, to Airline Highway and back to the event area over the course of several miles.
As for her impression of Hollister’s rally coming from Milwaukee?
“It’s great to see all these bikes on San Benito Street,” she said. “There’s a lot of Harleys parked on the street, so it’s always great to see how people customize them and make it their own.”

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