Bikes line the street during the 2004 motorcycle rally.
music in the park san jose

– The organizer of this year’s motorcycle rally has cleared the
event’s last major hurdle and virtually guaranteed that the rally
will take place in July.
Hollister – The organizer of this year’s motorcycle rally has cleared the event’s last major hurdle and virtually guaranteed that the rally will take place in July.

Horse Power Promotions has raised the $382,000 needed to cover the event’s public safety costs. The City Council approved the rally – scheduled for July 6-8 – in December, but said the event would be canceled if Horse Power owner Seth Doulton couldn’t come up with the public safety money.

Doulton met January’s fundraising milestone of $100,000 with room to spare. He said Wednesday that he also deposited the money to meet the March 1 benchmark of $250,000 more than a week before the deadline. When asked if he anticipated any problems reaching the final goal of $382,000, Doulton said, “Oh, I’ve already got the money.”

He plans to present a giant check to the City Council on March 26.

Doulton estimated that the rally’s total operating budget will be more than $650,000; he said he’s raised more than $500,000 so far.

The rally, whose roots go back to the infamous motorcycle invasion of 1947, normally draws more than 100,000 people to the area. The council voted to cancel last year’s rally due to escalating costs, but 10,000 bikers drove into town anyway, leaving Hollister to foot the law enforcement bill.

Those visitors can be a boon for local hotels. Rebecca Sanchez, guest services manager at Gilroy’s Hilton Garden Inn, said she’s happy the rally is coming back.

“It helps the whole community, as well as us,” Sanchez said.

Staffers at a number of local hotels said reservations are bouncing back after falling last year.

The Hilton Garden Inn normally fills up several days before the event. Bookings are up again after a dip in 2006, Sanchez said, but they’re still lagging behind normal rally attendance.

According to Sanchez, 70 to 80 percent of the hotel’s 137 rooms are usually booked by early March, but only around half of the rooms have been reserved to date.

Sanchez said it’s likely many people – especially those outside the region – don’t know that the rally is coming back.

“I haven’t heard much about it this year,” she said.

Jamie Hurtado, a desk clerk at Hollister’s Best Western San Benito Inn, also said the hotel’s numbers dropped last year – the rooms weren’t completely booked until the weekend of the rally. This year, she said, 33 of the hotel’s 42 rooms have already been reserved.

And those reservations come despite a hike in prices, Hurtado said. She told the Free Lance that summer weekend rates are normally between $120 and $140 per night, but rooms for the rally are going for between $300 and $400. In 2005, Hurtado said, rooms cost between $150 and $300.

Rick Patel, manager of the Quality Inn in Salinas, said he’s only received two or three reservations for the rally weekend, but he said he expects to be fully booked by the time the rally rolls around.

“That event fills rooms up from here up to Gilroy and San Jose,” Patel said.

Anthony Ha covers local government for the Free Lance. Reach him at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or [email protected].

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