Bike Fest Revs Its Engines Over July 4 Holiday

BILOXI (WLOX) -- The spring has Smokin the Sound. The fall has Cruisin the Coast. Starting Tuesday, tourism will get a summertime boost from a new motorcycle rally. Bike Fest 2008 is a five day party that extends from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula.

A group called the Ghost Riders stood under the awning at Hard Rock Biloxi waiting for a photographer to snap a picture. Over the Fourth of July holiday, the Ghost Riders and their bikes will cruise down Highway 90, with several hundred of their friends along for the ride.

Joe Trejo heads up the Ghost Riders.

"We've never had anything like this in Biloxi," he said.

That is, until Demp Bell began marketing Bike Fest. Bell's newly created bike rally will connect the 70 miles of Highway 90 that run through south Mississippi.

"Bike Fest is just like Cruisin the Coast, except it's bikes," said Bell. "It's a Bike Fest event."

And that event brings bikers to every south Mississippi city. So, Pascagoula is rolling out the red carpet for its guests.

"It's a neat deal," said Pascagoula Mayor Matthew Avara.

The mayor was in front of the Hard Rock's main entrance for an introductory rally that got people fired up about this week's Bike Fest events. He was one of the five mayors in attendance who got a chance to marvel at some of the chrome two wheelers that will whiz through their cities.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for us to co-mingle between the cities," Avara said.

Organizers anticipate up to 2,000 motorcycles rolling out of casino parking lots, and onto Highway 90 between Tuesday and July 5.

Why will the event be so popular? Simple, Joe Trejo said, "It's part of our heritage I guess, our family. That's why we get so involved in it."

Bike Fest planners already expect the 2009 bike parade to create bumper to bumper bike traffic on bridges, and at hotels, restaurants and shops across the coast.

"You know we could have 20,000-30,000 bikes on the coast next year," said Bell.

Proceeds from this week's Bike Fest will benefit the Salvation Army. Click here for a complete list of event dates, times and locations for Bike Fest 2008.