OCEAN CITY – This past weekend was a loud and prosperous one for the resort area, due to thousands of motorcycles that flocked to the shore for the annual Bike Week event.
“Bikers are a blessing,” said Gary Beach, general manager of Micky Fins in West Ocean City.
Nary an official disagreed with that notion, thanks largely to the burst of revenue the bikers’ presence brings to Delmarva.
It was estimated there were more than 100,000 motorcycles in town this past weekend. Harley-Davidson of Ocean City’s Benet McCormick said it was evident the bikers had a huge economic impact on the region.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it was a huge impact,” she said.
McCormick said bikers are unique in that nearly all aspects of the visit provides a boost to sales.
“When they come into town, most of them are on bikes so they don’t bring things with them,” she said. “They’re going to eat out, they’re going to by their gas locally, everything they need they are going to buy.”
Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, said vacancies were difficult to find last weekend.
“Hotels love it. It is a great way to end the season, a great economic driver in Ocean City,” she said. “We track occupancy and availability and we had a lot of members sold out leading up to the weekend. So, it was definitely a very strong weekend for hotel and restaurant businesses.”
The best part about the bikers spending their money is a good portion of it goes to charities and non-profit organizations, according to McCormick.
“A lot of them like to take the Mister Whippy ride,” McCormick said. “That’s when they ride down to Chincoteague Island for ice cream and it is a fundraiser for the Red Knights. … The Cruzin the Coast is a big ride. We have 13 businesses from Crisfield to Harrington that have come on board with us and they go to each of these establishments and get their books stamped, and then their name goes into a drawing for a jackpot. This year the jackpot was over $3,000 and it went to a local person and another portion of that goes to a scholarship fund.”
Jones said local businesses now rely on Bike Week for a boost in September sales.
“It felt busier but bike week always fills the town,” Jones said. “It is a very strong event and it is not weather dependent. Bikers come regardless, rain or shine.”
Fortunately, Mother Nature delivered for the bikers, as the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
“It was beautiful, we had the weather on our side,” said Chad Rogers of the Greene Turtle West. “It was a great weekend. It was very busy and everybody was very well behaved as always. … On Friday and Saturday, the crowd would hit around noon and we were busy until 9 or 10 that night, but definitely more busy during the day.”
Although their motorcycles may be loud, the biker’s persona is not, according to area businesses.
“They’re not just bikers but their doctors and lawyers,” Beach asserted. “They drive around $30,000 to $40,000 bikes.”
Their presence was very much appreciated by many in Ocean City, especially among the service industry.
“Servers appreciate them because they tip [well],” Beach said. “They like to eat, drink and be merry.”
Beach adds, “They’re like the best people in the whole world. We had zero security and no trouble. It was a awesome way to end the summer,” Beach added. “Just amazing.”
Rogers said expectations were high for the weekend and there was not a let down.
“It was all we could ask for and more,” Rogers said. “I hope Ocean City keeps it going, it was a great way to end the summer. We are very happy with the way it turned out.”
At the Mayor and Council meeting earlier this week, Mayor Rick Meehan addressed the event’s success.
“It is a little loud but the good news is they’re here,” he said. “They have a great time. It is a three- or four-day event, and I was out and about interacting with them, and they are very pleasant and a great group. They are great for our economy, and its great to have them here in Ocean City.”
After talking to the chief of police, the mayor reported, “There were no major incidents but there were certainly a number of traffic citations issued. … The community was prepared and I think that’s why it was such a successful event.”