BERLIN — Bikers from across the country will be invited to swing by Berlin next week as part of Bike Week on the Eastern Shore.
In the future, the town would like to play a bigger role in the event, viewing the bikers as a lucrative and positive group of visitors, according to officials.
This fall, Berlin will serve as the gathering point for approximately 100 bikers before their day trip to Chincoteague.
“Bike Week really likes Berlin, so they have asked if they could assemble 75 to 100 bikes,” said Mike Day, director of Economic and Community Development. “[Berlin Police] Chief [Arnold] Downing said there might be more but they will all be registered so we’ll know how many they are. What they’d like to do is assemble here starting at 9 in the morning and then stay until 11 a.m. And then they would go down to Chincoteague as a large contingency.”
However, Day told the Town Council Monday that he expects the end number of bikers signed up for the gathering, which will take place Sept. 13, will exceed 100 bikes. If that’s the case, the event will move from the town hall parking lot.
“This would be just a two-hour assembly,” said Day. “I’ve talked to Chief Downing and if we get over 125, we’d like to consider moving this to the park and not putting in in this parking lot.”
The move would put the bikes at Stephen Decatur Park for the morning, which would be a much better fit if the event hits the triple digits, said Downing. If the number of bikers passes 150, it will probably be moved to the Tyson property.
“We believe it’s going to be over the 75 number already. We’ve made calls and made contact with the coordinator for this event,” Downing told the council. “They’ve done it out of the Harley shop and had over 150 riding and doing the ride itself. Right now we’re in the planning and communication stages with them.”
Whether the bikes hangout at town hall or head to the park that morning, it will be too early in the day for most businesses to be open to take advantage of the increased traffic. Day acknowledged this, but said that the goal is just to get bikers acquainted with Berlin, which is why the town is also participating in a “pin run” program as part of Bike Week.
“Berlin has received a grant from the county tourism office and the merchants have matched it and Main Street has matched that grant and we will be a pin run,” said Day.
Though not the first time, Berlin has participated in the pin run in the past, but it has been years since the town was part of the route. Bikers can register to participate in the run and are given a map of locations in Berlin and other local spots that are part of the route. In Berlin, Siculi’s, Tex Mex, The Globe and The Atlantic Hotel are all official stops on the run.
Once enough locations have been visited, a participating biker is awarded a special pin. The program is extremely popular, said Day. It cost Berlin $2,000 to join the pin run, with $500 of that coming from a Worcester County Tourism Office grant and the remaining $1,500 raised by Main Street and town merchants.
Between the pin run and the assembly on Sept. 13, Berlin aims to be a more active participant in Bike Week this year and in the future. The council applauded the move.
“We really need to accommodate these folks. I know when we had our store that’s when it really started to, I mean, these folks are very generous,” Councilwoman Lisa Hall said. “They like to spend money, they like to go out to eat, they like to have destination points to ride and they might not be spending any money that morning but they’ll be back. And I just think it’s a good thing.”