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March 21, 2023

City will not host 2023 motorcycle rally

Event unlikely to return to Hollister before 2024

Following a recent city council discussion, it is increasingly likely that the Fourth of July motorcycle rally will not return to Hollister for 2023. 

The council on March 6 discussed the possibility of bringing the rally back to the downtown this summer, as an informational item on the agenda. Following input from Police Chief Carlos Reynoso—who explained that the necessary security staff will be hard to find in time for July 4—the five-member council came to a 4-1 consensus to forego a motorcycle rally that would be hosted by the City of Hollister.

That consensus runs counter to the majority of voters in the November 2022 election—60% of whom said “Yes” on Measure T to hold a motorcycle rally on July 4 weekend. The measure was an advisory, non-binding vote. 

Council members and the mayor each said March 6 that they support the idea of hosting a July 4 rally—and would continue to search for a way to bring it back in a future year. But concerns over security and costs killed any hope for a 2023 event. 

Reynoso told the council that a temporary fence perimeter around downtown would cost about $15,000, but the real expense comes from paying police and staff to guard the entrances and exits to the event and check for tickets, wristbands or other proof that participants had paid an entry fee. 

In years past, other police departments and the California Highway Patrol have been “eager” to help out with security at the once-annual Hollister rally, Reynoso said. But those agencies—like Hollister PD—are not as flush with available resources as they used to be. 

“The last time we had the (motorcycle) rally was 2017. These police departments are telling me they are not able to assist” with a 2023 rally, Reynoso said. “It’s not a lack of planning, it’s a lack of resources.”

Councilmember Rolan Resendiz was the sole council member who wanted to proceed with planning for a 2023 rally, and searching for a way to secure such an event. 

“Every single year we have the same conversation and the same result since I’ve been on the council,” Resendiz said. “It’s very disappointing. This is what we’re known for. This is a huge economic development opportunity for our local businesses (and) our residents. It’s really disappointing when I know this is one of the number one issues that I’m asked about.”

Other council members said they wish the city could host a motorcycle rally, but were convinced that they wouldn’t be able to find adequate security staff in time for July of this year. 

“I support the biker rally, but I also support that we have enough staff,” Council member Rick Perez said. “If we don’t have enough staff, it’s not happening (and) I’m not going to vote yes on it.”

The first Fourth of July Hollister Motorcycle Rally took place in 1947. For many years, it was a reliably annual event. In recent memory, however, several years have been skipped due to costs associated with the event and the lack of outside private organizations willing to take over the hosting and planning of the motorcycle rally. 

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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