A record number of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts have descended on Port Dover, Ont., for the town’s traditional Friday the 13th rally.
Reporter Seamus O’Regan told CTV News Channel that the crowd amassed on this hot sunny Friday in July may have surpassed a previous record of 170,000.
“And they’re estimating 100,000 motorcycles,” O’Regan said.
Streets close across the town as beer tents, street vendors and merchants set up shop and motorcycle enthusiasts show off their flashy rides and pimped-out creations.
The first Friday the 13th rally was held in Port Dover in 1981 and just 25 people attended.
The event has grown by word of mouth and now the small Lake Erie community celebrates Friday the 13th in a big way, hosting a massive music festival and bike rally, seen as a boon to the local economy.
Camp sites and bars in the southwestern Ontario town of 5,000 will see overwhelming crowds over the course of the weekend.
CTV Toronto’s John Musselman said the main street of Port Dover was one giant party by noon, with lots of live music and people jamming the local shops. The town expects to do about $2 million in business during the event.
The mood is festive and the crowd is very friendly, though police say they are worried about crowd control and want to make sure people stay hydrated.
O’Regan told CTV News Channel that people at the rally were in hog heaven.
“One thing about motorcycle enthusiasts: They really like their own kind. Everyone here is in a really happy, joyous mood and they’ve been welcomed by the town with open arms.”
He said the bikers have peeled back the leathers in the heat and that he could see more cotton and denim and in some cases, not much clothing at all.
There were more than a few wild characters, including a man dressed as Santa, a woman in head to toe zebra print, perched on a bike complete with a zebra paint job.
A 71-year-old man who has become a regular face at the Friday the 13th rallies cruised the main drag of Port Dover in nothing but a thong, stopping to sign autographs. He wears the same thing at rallies held in January and has drawn a cult following.
People at Friday’s rally had come from all over North America including Florida, North Carolina, Victoria and Newfoundland.