A year after the coronavirus pandemic impacted Laconia Motorcycle Week, the annual New Hampshire event is picking up steam.
Hundreds of thousands of people descend on the Lake District town this week for what is considered the world’s oldest motorcycle rally.
There was a scaled-down version last year, but this year the event is back in all its glory.
“The weather is great and I’m having a great time,” said Lenny Vento of New Rochelle, New York.
“You always meet new people here, and you also see old friends here,” said Leonard Acompora, who is from Stamford, Connecticut.
It’s Laconia’s 98th Motorcycle Week, and after a quiet 2020, bikers say the sights and sounds are even sweeter.
“Oh yeah, that’s freedom,” said Patty Corrow of Claremont, New Hampshire.
This summer, with no COVID-19 restrictions, the city expects a typical influx of around 200,000 visitors throughout the week.
“It’s great not to see a ghost town,” said Kerri Copeland, who runs the Half Moon gift shop on the Strip.
“I’ve had my COVID shots, I’m a disabled veteran, and I’m just enjoying life,” said Wally Saber of Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
The rally dates back to 1916. Over the decades it has grown into a more family-friendly event.
“There was a motorcycle, and it had a sloth in the back, and it was really cool,” said Ava Wade, 11, of North Reading, Massachusetts.
She arrived in Laconia on Thursday on the back of her daddy’s bike.
“For the first time, she’s seeing it all,” said Stephen Kelly of Canterbury, New Hampshire. “She’s been stuck in the house for a year, if not more, and we take her out and show her the sights.”
And like most visitors, Wade says it’s an experience she will remember for a long time.
“Forever, forever,” she said.
“Oh that’s awesome, it brings tears to my eyes,” Kelly said. “Create memories.”
Believe it or not, Bike Week regulars say it was a relatively quiet Thursday in Wiers. They say things will pick up on Friday, just in time for Father’s Day weekend.