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Harley-Davidson's anniversary celebration begins

Posted at 7:09 PM, Aug 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-29 20:09:36-04

Harley Davidson’s 115th Anniversary Celebration got underway Wednesday. There will be special events held through Labor Day.

At the Port of Milwaukee Wednesday morning, there were more bikes than boats. An estimated 6,000 Harley riders are using the Lake Express Ferry as the final leg of their trip to Milwaukee for the weekend festivities. There’s no added fee to have a motorcycle on board, if you buy a ferry ticket.

“It’s easier than swimming across Lake Michigan, and better than fighting traffic through Chicago,” jokes Jim Deluca, who rode in from Boston. “I’ve been riding a Harley for more than 40 years. I wouldn’t miss this. It’s a lot of good people getting together for a good time.”

“It was a nice view on the ferry,” adds Gene Accardi, from New Jersey. “I’ve never been to Milwaukee. I’m excited. I just love Harley bikes. You can’t get a better product or brand. I wouldn’t have any other bike.”

On Wednesday evening, a free Harley party was held at Veteran’s Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront. There was live music, motorcycle demonstrations, helicopter rides, and a Ferris wheel. 

The riders in the crowd were of all ages and backgrounds. We found groups from Colombia, Mexico, and Belgium, to name a few. Language is not a barrier when it comes to sharing love for Harley. 

Willie G. Davidson, the grandson of one of Harley-Davidson’s founders, kicked things off. 

“I just want to say welcome to the great city of Milwaukee,” he yelled to the crowd.

His children, who now help lead Harley-Davidson, rode from San Diego to Milwaukee with other riding groups. It took them about a week. They stopped at various Harley dealerships along the way.

“I can’t think of a better way to see the U.S. than from the seat of a Harley, with strangers who become more like family,” says Bill Davidson.

“You become bonded, and you can’t help but appreciate what Harley Davidson represents as a reflection of freedom and the American spirit,” adds Karen Davidson.

Despite any controversy between Harley-Davidson and President Trump over the past few months, or reports of declining motorcycle sales, this weekend is about celebrating 115 years of Harley, and the company’s roots in Milwaukee.