Galveston, Sturgis, Rolling Thunder

May 21, 2020

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Galveston, Sturgis, Rolling Thunder

The Lone Star Rally in Galveston isn’t scheduled until November but a local politician has already called for its cancellation. Earlier this week, a candidate for the Galveston City Council named Wayne D. Holt published a guest editorial in Texas’ oldest newspaper, The Daily News of Galveston County, slugged “Galveston leaders must cancel Lone Star Rally now.”

Holt called on “Mayor Jim Yarbrough and city council to direct Brian Maxwell as city manager to immediately invoke paragraph 24 of Galveston’s current contract with the rally. This is a unilateral declaration of public safety threat that allows the city to cancel the contract with no penalty to us and no recourse by the rally.”

Holt’s arguments are reasoned and anticipate what may be the debate next month when Sturgis, South Dakota decides whether to cancel its famous rally. It is worth quoting Holt at length. He writes:
“Not one mention of the COVID-19 virus, no guidance regarding social distancing and a decidedly strong encouragement to come on down and mix with hundreds of thousands of other bikers from around the country. This is surreal.

“A city government that has been comfortable in locking down an entire community beyond state and county health guidelines and continues to consider 100,000 visitors – many of them families – enjoying miles of beaches as a threat, somehow manages not to notice the problem with dumping over 350,000 usually unruly bikers into the confined heart of downtown Galveston a few short months from now.

“A local economy of small and medium businesses that was completely shut down and is limping badly can look forward to an invasion of itinerant merchants setting up shop in front of the very businesses that were asked to make these extraordinary sacrifices.

“How is this supportive of public health, local economic recovery or basic fairness to the residents and businesses that will face this tidal wave of visitors? It’s clear allowing the rally would be none of those things.

“The city cannot have it both ways on this issue. It cannot speak out of one side of its mouth and say the very unknown nature of the virus spread forces emergency conditions with no clear end in sight at the same time it displays no concern for a mass of bikers descending on us from around the country that will see tens of thousands shoulder to shoulder on our streets.

“It’s beyond illogical; it’s plainly hypocritical and opportunistic, with public safety not even getting a nod.”


On May 14, the City of Sturgis released estimates of what cancelling the August rally would “cost the city.”

“As a City, we anticipate losing $1,700,000 in 2020. In order to make up this funding the City will need to implement the following:

• 5%+ increase in Property Taxes
• 7%+ increase in Sanitation utility fees
• Cancel community events (i.e. Music on Main, Movies at Rally Point, Community Picnic, etc.)
• Adjust snow removal protocols to reduce overtime and salt usage
• Reduce Community Center Pool Hours
• Eliminate weight room and cardio room equipment enhancements
• Reduce sport field and parks mowing
• Eliminate weed spraying, landscape & tree replacement
• Eliminate new mulch and sand for playground
• Reduce SEDC and Chamber funding
• Reduce Library, PD equipment purchases
• Greatly reduce charitable contributions
• Staff furloughs
• In addition, we anticipate using more than 35% of the City’s General Fund Reserves to assist in filling the financial gap

“In 2014 the City’s SIP resident survey indicated 15% of the residents rented their homes, 6% rented their yard and 22% worked a Rally job – 43% of our residents are part of the Rally. This income is generally 5 -15% of their household annual income.

“Last year, the Rally generate more than $600,000 for Black Hills area charities. Without the Rally, these donations will not occur.

“The Community is facing additional challenges beyond the Rally due to the COVID pandemic. The City will be facing additional revenue shortfalls which will only increase the adjustments identified. We believe the County and School revenue will be limited due to the pandemic which may result in additional property tax increases as well.”

Will They Come

It may or may matter what the city decides.

Just last Sunday, Tom Carter, who owns Tilford Gulch Rally Campground told Rapid City television station KNBN, as if he was speaking of the unstoppable steppe hordes who once invaded Europe, “I actually believe that if they cancel the Rally I actually believe they’re coming…I know some are coming. Will it be big numbers? I can’t answer that. I have had people cancel. I don’t blame them if they don’t feel comfortable coming, then don’t come, but I actually think that there’s gonna be ones that are going to come anyway.”

Dean Kinney, a local media executive who is a member of the rally’s board of directors, told the television station “If the Rally doesn’t happen in an official capacity, there’s a very good chance the city would not have the sponsorship money or the vending income but still have all of the expenses to go with it and the economic cost of that will be devastating. It could put the Sturgis community into what amounts to a localized recession.”

The notion that “unruly bikers” are an unstoppable, uncontrollable force, plague or no plague, like the Huns in 200 AD, will be tested this weekend.

Rolling Thunder

For decades, a biker horde invaded our nation’s capital every Memorial Day as part of a ritual called Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder – it was the name of a bombing campaign during the Vietnam War – began as a demonstration by pissed-off Vietnam vets. Its causes were to demand an accounting of the missing in action and known prisoners and to get just a little, damned respect. One early participant described Rolling Thunder as a “show of force.” Sometimes people pay closer attention to you when you are three thousand strong and very loud.

As Vietnam faded from memory, the annual ride grew and became less focused. It became a demonstration of the sentiment to never forget the missing and also a sort of general display of nationalism. The longtime First Sergeant of the event, Artie Muller, called it quits last year. The organization he founded decided that many local events might be better than one big one.

Then a group called American Veterans or AMVETS, founded by World Wat II veterans, decided to continue the annual motorcycle ride from Arlington, Virginia to The Wall. AMVETSs rechristened the weekend “Rolling to Remember” and the Sunday ride, the event people either love or hate, became the “First Amendment Demonstration Run.”


Then the plague hit. It turned out not to be a left wing hoax. At the moment this is being written, the American death toll stands at 94,629. The Covid plague is the reason Sturgis and even the Lone Star rally are in doubt. About 70 percent of the nation thinks more people haven’t died because most of us have stayed home from work hiding under our beds. Also, about 98 percent of us are tired of hiding under our beds.

So whatever happens this weekend in Washington may be a harbinger of what will happen later in Sturgis and Galveston.

AMVETS has announded that this year, Memorial Day will be observed “virtually,” whatever the hell that means. Instead of a mass of bikers invading Washington, the organization announces:

“The annual motorcycle ride honoring missing military service members will be held remotely in response to the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. In lieu of the mass demonstration typically held in D.C.’s capital, organization AMVETS is hosting a Remember to Ride challenge, which allows riders to complete a solo 22-mile ride in their community. Participants can use the REVER app to document their trek.”

Maybe things will go like that. Maybe something different will happen. Maybe this is the way the world ends, as T.S. Eliot wrote. “Not with a bang but a whimper.”


13 Responses to “Galveston, Sturgis, Rolling Thunder”

  1. CHIEF Says:

    I’m comin regardless.Who knows, may be like the old days, no vendors!!

  2. Curbside Says:

    I really like the way we’re considered “usually unruly”.

    On the upside, it’s my understanding that this guy is merely a candidate and isn’t actually holding a position of any sort. Hopefully the fine folks in Galveston will accept his drivel for what it is and tell him to feast upon a magnificent satchel of Richards.

  3. Reyn Mansson Says:

    First, Lone Star Rally. Holt is running for a place on the city council and locally his letter is seen as a publicity stunt. I spoke with the rally management last week and it is proceeding as planned. There are several events scheduled in Texas over the next three weeks that the rally organizers have all confirmed are a GO.
    There is a huge pent up demand for travel right now and motorcycle riders are the leading edge of that. The Ozarks were packed last weekend, the bridges to South Parde were at a crawl. In my opinion, if there is one group that will challenge the restrictions it will be bikers.

  4. jrino Says:

    I think of the kids that are being beaten by drunk parents {and they would show symptoms if they went to school!} I think of the 40% of employees who make $40,k who will not get their jobs back. I think of the 30% of restaurant owners who will not open up after this lockdown is over. You speak of morals, I believe in taking care of the people most susceptible, but when is the cure worse than the covid? You left out a important fact: this shit is not going away, there may be a vaccine but you can’t force people to take it. Government as Big Brother may work for you in Europe but when has government not messed up the program? I don’t trust what is being done and people will die but We all have a life to live, and most of the time it’s OUR Choice how we do it! Finally I’m older than your examples I don’t have pre=existing conditions like over weight lung problems etc. How many dead never took care of themselves? You try and save them. They have never thought of the consequences of their free will.

  5. rookery Says:


    ah statistics, everyone of course likes to interpret them to suit their mood. The only way to get idea if dodgy moonshine deaths is affecting the way the USA does their maths is to look at the average deaths from all causes for the first 4-5 months of 2019 nationwide and then do the same for 2020. this of course would include the sad annual 2019 total for flu, I don’t have a clue what that might be but UK, Italy and Spain all hit 50% over average for deaths at some point this year which is a bit sobering. You then add the percentage of the population that is believed to have been infected and then that is a reasonably reliable figure for your USA death rate from Covid…..I can’t arsed as its late but feel free to do the maths.
    You are of course quite correct in saying that the lock-down USA will kill many by indirect means. The moral question is whether you accept that opening up the economy thus increasing the Covid infection rate which will screw many innocents, which as again you correctly point out are mostly elderly or vulnerable. Not sure that makes their lives any less worthy mind you….

    Delighted to hear that you have had Covid and recovered. I have one club brother in the USA dead from covid, 3 hospitalised, recovered, but still seriously seriously affected and several like yourself who have had what one said were terrible changeable possibly flu like symptoms which seem to have now passed. none of them by the way over 60 youngest is 27.. Europe we’ve had several club bothers infected but no one as yet seriously ill.

  6. jrino Says:

    rookery: You forget to mention 80% of the dead { in this country} come from old folks homes! When did lower the curve become hide you sorry ass until a vaccine comes along? Yesterday The CDC said the virous cannot be spread by surface contact! When the fuck did they figure out this tidbit of information? With pictures of men in hazmat suits spraying from china to Italy! Hell in Colorado a man who achieved a 5.0 blood alcohol level and drunk himself to death mysteriously died of corvid! A suicide in the USA happens every 40 seconds! What do you think the rate is now for your precious lockdown? My response to you is: YOU are killing people with this shutdown! BTW I have had the Virous so don’t pull the “you’ll be sorry” shit on me. What ever number you have for infected people in the USA multiply the number by 50 to 80 times that and you get a death rate lower than the flu every year.

  7. Ben Says:

    A scenario like this could play out:

    Williams said in a press release that all nonessential travel into the El Dorado County portion of the Lake Tahoe basin is banned. Officials will review the situation every two weeks.
    The county’s public health officials noted that while the area has seen a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, “significant risk would still exist were the state’s nonessential travel ban to be lifted.”
    The emergency ordinance allowing officials to fine visitors for short-term rentals also remains in effect.

    Thus, lost revenue could be partially offset by fines. Imagine road blocks, where travelers must show papers, proving where they are going and why. Something like, “show me your pass,” as the apartheid constabularies asked in South Africa.

  8. rookery Says:

    Sad fact is some of you on this list still don’t get how this virus kills. Those hospitalised by the virus fill the beds overloading the system till it breaks, clearly seen by the European statistics. The average stay as in patient is 21-24 days. If people keep being admitted then the beds run out. Its only the herculean efforts of front line medical staff that have kept your death rate this low. And of course a lock down.
    When the US lock down breaks and I accept that it will as financial desperation, fake news and public anger rises, the knock on effect of cancelled cancer treatments, snakebite,overdoses, transplant surgery and all the other routine stuff that normally gets treated but won’t due to acute bed shortages will see the death rate probably rise to what Rebel predicted some weeks back. Until there is a vaccine the only proven way of slowing the virus is lock down and track n trace. some may think its some convenient political scam but governments, even Trumps have a moral responsibility to keep their citizens alive if possible. If you want to go back to work you have to accept the casualty’s that will come with it…grim choices..

  9. Straight Shooter Says:

    The shut downs will cripple the already wrecked economy. That is by design & those puppets in DC are doing what they are told. And it is not just here. HR 6666 & ID2020 will have everyone data banked & vax by force.

  10. Loner Says:

    What @Freebird said.

  11. Freebird Says:

    Criminal Office Gang

    Has a ring to it…..

    That is a database I want to see

  12. Freebird Says:

    Fuck Wayne D. Holt

    And the horse he rode in on

    Power is addictive

    Looks like we got a whole new drug war going down

  13. Va.Bob Says:

    If not a left-wing hoax,it’s still a political gambit by Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers.In a nation of ,what,320 million ,they shut down over this number ? In my county ,we lose more from drug OD’s than from COVID.The business of America is business.Let’s get back to it.

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