Rev that engine for rally weekend

City’s biker tradition continues in two weekends

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

Do you feel bad to the bone? If so, the Hollister Independence Rally will ride back into town over the last weekend this month.

The rally has historic roots in the 1947 invasion of Hollister by the Boozefighters, re-told in the film “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando. The first official rally took place in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the invasion.

This year marks the 70th anniversary.

This year’s motorcycle rally features actor Erik Estrada as Friday’s headliner. Estrada starred in the 1970s show “CHiPs” about two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers.

“(Estrada) will be there all day Friday,” Promoter Randy Burke of Roadshows Inc. said. “He’s very accessible. People can come up, talk to him and get pictures taken with him. He’s a great guy.”

Other entertainment includes Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band Skynnyn Lynnyrd, all-girl Motley Crue cover band Cruella, Journey cover band the Charlie Brechtel Band and more. This year’s rally sponsors include Harley Davidson, Geico, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Corbin, Johnny’s Bar and Grill, and Coors Light.

Hollister council members approved a three-day, $164,000 contract with Roadshows Inc., Burke’s company, last December.

City Manager Bill Avera said the final payment went through two weeks ago.

“They’re all caught up on that,” Avera said Monday.

City documents showed that officials over the last four years calculated widely ranging figures for each rally’s total cost. There was a fluctuation of $94,000 between the 2013 and 2014 motorcycle rallies.

This is the second year Burke and his promotions company have held the Hollister Independence Rally. He said there hasn’t been talk of next year.

“We haven’t talked to the city about next year at all,” Burke said. “We’re focused and they’re focused on this year, the 70th anniversary. We’re expecting a nice, large show.”

Roadshows Inc.’s involvement in the 2016 rally marked the third promoter in four years. It was the only promoter to submit a bid for the 2016 rally after a different promoter in 2015 left over a dispute of $90,000 owed to the City of Hollister.

“It’s been much easier this year because we’ve got one year under our belt and we know what to expect from them and they know us,” Burke said. “We’re working smoothly with the police chief and different departments in the city.”

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez called Roadshows Inc. a “good promoter.”

“He did a good job the year before; he’s going to do a good job this year,” Velazquez said. “He’s keeping his promises. I’m looking forward to it.”

Velazquez played a key role in reviving the rally in 2013 after the rising costs caused the nonprofit running the event to opt out in years prior. The 2013 rally was the first one held since the event was cancelled in 2008.

Avera said things have worked well with Roadshows this year.

“We’re coordinating some things we needed to do last year as it relates to generators,” Avera said. “There are a couple minor changes in the big beer garden by the Briggs Building, but other than that, everything else is the same. It makes it efficient for us. We’re getting used to how the setup goes. We’re looking forward to an easy setup and teardown here.”

Councilman Jim Gillio attended a rally planning meeting Tuesday. A retired police officer himself, Gillio said he was impressed with the rally’s security plan.

“I was very impressed with the preparations and planning from all the city departments,” Gillio said. “They have this thing planned down to the hour, if not the minute of each day.”

Police Chief David Westrick said he couldn’t comment on how many officers would be working the rally due to security concerns.

“In general terms, you’ll see more (Hollister) officers at the rally than other years,” Westrick said. “We employ others from outside the area as well.”

He also couldn’t comment on the number of contracted officers or their jurisdictions, citing security concerns.

“What the public will see is just smaller groups of police officers that will be interacting with the public,” he said. “Before, when people would come for the rally, you’d see (officers) working an intersection. We don’t do that anymore. We have more of an opportunity to have positive interactions if we’re out in the crowd and welcoming folks who are here.”

The officers who work the rally like to interact, Westrick said.

“They’re good with people. We have teams that have come here for years that receive compliments and a lot of kudos because of how well they interact. I’m pretty proud of that actually. I want to continue that.”

While heat stroke and exhaustion at the rally concern Westrick, he said the department tries to plan for any eventuality.

“For Hollister, it’s an event that permeates throughout the whole year because we train for it all year. We have officers attend training on special events. I myself have gone to special events school. It’s pretty much year round for us as far as thinking about it. I think what we try to achieve every year, especially for police and public safety in general, is just to be part of the background. If we’re needed, we can respond easily. If we’re not needed, we’re not needed.”

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