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

The famed Hollister Fourth of July motorcycle rally may not be happening this year, but it might return for 2023 if the voters say so in this November’s election.

The Hollister City Council narrowly voted earlier this month to place an advisory measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, asking voters if the popular event should return for the annual Independence Day holiday. And they might get to decide how long the festivities should last, as the measure consists of two questions with “Yes” or “No” options.

The first motorcycle rally question on the Nov. 8 ballot for voters registered in the City of Hollister will ask, “Should the City of Hollister re-establish the Hollister Motorcycle Rally to be conducted annually over the Fourth of July weekend?” The second question asks if the event should be held annually “over a week prior to/following” the holiday weekend.

The advisory measure is not binding, and will appear on the ballot “to obtain an indication of voter opinion regarding substantive issues concerning the city,” says a city staff report.

The council voted to place the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot at the June 6 meeting on a 3-2 vote. Dissenting to the measure were Council members Dolores Morales and Rick Perez, citing potential security concerns stemming from the event.

The Hollister Independence Rally dates back more than 70 years, drawing thousands of bikers from across the country. But the event’s recent history has been fraught with sponsorship and political challenges, and has not been held as an official city event since 2016.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said if the Nov. 8 measure gains a majority “Yes” vote on either question, he hopes future city councils will honor the result and commit to hosting an annual Fourth of July Motorcycle Rally. Velazquez said the event in years past has been one of the area’s biggest annual tourism attractions, bringing in heaps of business and revenue for local coffers.

He added that the rally could become even bigger and better if city officials commit to hosting it every year, instead of changing their mind from one year to the next.

“We know what the issues are (related to security concerns)—we just need to come together and plan for it correctly instead of shutting it down every other year,” Velazquez said.

On March 21, the council voted 3-2 to reject the Fourth of July motorcycle rally for 2022, out of concern there might not be enough public safety personnel on hand to support the event. At that time, the council discussed the possibility of a ballot measure on the annual rally.

Holiday festivities

The Independence Rally might not be happening (at least not officially), but the Fourth of July holiday weekend will bring other fun, family friendly festivities to San Benito County. The Downtown Kiddie Parade will take place in downtown Hollister at 10am July 4. The parade lineup begins at 9am, and VFW Post 9242 will lead the procession.

Then at nighttime, the July 4 fireworks show will take place at Maze Middle School, 900 Meridian Street in Hollister. The venue opens at 7pm, and the show is expected to start around 9pm.

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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.


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