Thousands of bikes line San Benito Street during a past motorcycle rally. File photo
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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. 

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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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Since the vote was held in November last year the council has had plenty of time to organize the coverage. So in March, they decide there’s not enough time to organize it. Its obvious the majority of them don’t want the Rally to occur in spite of what the voters want. When will people start electing representatives who actually represent us?

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  2. I don’t remember ever having to pay to attend the event. I don’t remember a fence needing to be erected to insure people paid for entrance. If the council strategically placed donation boxes throughout the event, they would be surprised how generous bikers are. All this appears to be absurd. Just my two cents for whatever it’s worth. Rather disappointing.

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    • I agree , don’t remember to pay an entry fee to attend rally, as for fence , maybe they are talking about the plastic orange blockaids to prevent cars from entering blocked off streets for mc , yes if they did put up a donation box , it will generate some revenue for the city .

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  3. The Rally was a huge injection into the city’s economy. As a Biker, this Rally was the best I’ve attended compared to others all over the United States. From a historical aspect, the Rally was the birthplace of the American Biker and obviously, your constituents voted to keep it going. I wouldn’t even mind paying a supplemental sales tax to augment the costs of the “resources” you folks need. Mutual Aid is already factored into contracts for Police and Fire so, that shouldn’t be an issue. Bring back the Rally!

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  4. Well, as you can see, the administration of Hollister has decided to go against the voter’s wishes. So much for that “government of the People, by the People” joke.

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