Blowout More Than Just Bikes, Babes And Beer - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/26/05

Blowout More Than Just Bikes, Babes And Beer

Hotel clerk Elizabeth Hardy tells a guest on the phone, "I can get you a non-smoking king or two double queens."

Hardy just booked one of the last rooms at the Crystal Inn. The closest hotel to the Gulfport Dragway will fill up this weekend with Harley owners in town for the big bike rally.

"It means our hotel is gonna sell out. It brings a lot of money into us. Not everyone can stay at the fairgrounds down there, the dragway, so they like coming to stay with us," Hardy says.

Revving up their engines, under perfect clear, sunny skies, the early bird bikers are checking in at the dragway.

"Glad to have 'em here. Big cross section of folks and they're just people who like to enjoy the fun on the Coast like so many others do," says Harrison County Tourism Director, Steve Richer.

Tourists come to the Coast because we have so many different events. Big loud bikes might not be everyone's idea of fun but for thousands of Harley lovers, they wouldn't miss the the annual Memorial Day blowout.

Asgard Motorcycle Club Spokesman, Smokey, says, "We built this up over the years where it's a major attraction for the casinos, the restaurants and the hotels; just travelin' around and enjoying the Mississippi Coast."

And dropping bucks at businesses like Gulf Coast Harley Davidson. The shelves are stocked and ready for the weekend bike shoppers.

Store Owner Ron Lonnborg says, "It's a big time of the year for us. Like Christmas in springtime. Everybody comes out and gets their bikes ready for the blowout and then we have all weekend, large crowds, really good time."

Lonnborg say bikers' money spends like everyone else's, all green.

The blowout officially starts at noon Friday, but there are already hundreds of bikes in town. Smokey, the Asgard spokesman, says each year they have anywhere from 10,000-20,000 Harley fans show up.

byMarcia Hill

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