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110th Anniversary

All roads lead to Rome

That Rome would be a pretty cool venue for a Harley-Davidson birthday was soon appreciated not only by Italian Harley riders! So many tour option on the way over the Alps, so many routes through Tuscany and around the “Eternal City” – and the sightseeing locations from 3,000 years of history were just waiting to be “experienced” with the motorcycle.

That the visitors of Rome would certainly see a lot of Rome, the choice of event sites ensured: The port of Ostia and the Olympic Stadium site for the 1940 Olympic Games were “only” 40 km apart – but at opposite ends of the city. Reached via the highway in 1 hour, a drive through the city could sometimes take two hours. However, passing unique sights like the Colosseum, the Pantheon or the Vatican State! In fact, the new pope did not let the Harley-crowd down and celebrated a service in St. Peter’s Basilica. And next day blessed the bikes in a huge ceremony in front of thousands of participants who had completely blocked the streets to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Anybobody even briefly into Roman and Italian history, could use the event for a mega tour experience, for which the given time could hardly be enough. In order to channel the thousands of parade participants from Ostia through the city center past the Colosseum via the Via dei Fori Imperali, the parade was divided into several groups. Which ended in a typically “Italian” fashion: Only a fraction of the participants arrived at the 1940 Olympic site, Rome “swallowed-up” the participants already on the way to the site. The nice fact about the 110th Harley anniversary in Rome: Everyone was able to get the best out of the event for themselves!

“Deal!?” – Willie G. meeting Joseph Ratzinger, here still as Pope Benedict XVI – sealed the Vatican deal. Ratzinger resigned February 28th 2013, and his successor, Francis, took over the Harley blessing. (HD Press photo)

2013 – Milwaukee wird Routine

With the 100th and 105th birthday celebrations in mind, it’s hard to give a fair judgement on the 110th birthday in Milwaukee. Definitely exorbitant were the hotel prices within a radius of 60 km – which was certainly also one of the reasons for the rapid drop in visitor numbers. Harley-Davidson made a great effort again, the city welcomed the visitors and yet: the declining interest was felt and visible on all event sites!

Despite attractive band lineup, the Summerfest Ground was nowhere near as well attended as it was in 2008 and Harley activities were concentrated on the museum location and a “Customizer Village” in Veterans Park with a rather disappointing turnout of aftermarket and customizers. At least there was a bike show in the tent near the museum and a great “Ride-In” bike show worth seeing, attracting numerous rare motorcycles.


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