Riders flock to Milwaukee for Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary

Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:31pm EDT
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By Brendan O'Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts have roared into Milwaukee to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson Co, but few traveled as far as Chai Chua.

The 46-year-old business owner bid farewell to his wife and three children in Brunei about a week ago and set off with seven of his closest friends. They flew to Los Angeles, then hopped on rented Harley-Davidson motorcycles and headed to the Midwestern state.

"My wife knows I am crazy about this," said Chua, after arriving at the site of the party, where he and his friends joined the crowds marking the motorcycle maker's anniversary over the Labor Day weekend.

"We have seen the prairies, the mountains, Mount Rushmore and now the Mecca for riders," Chua said, shouting over blues music outside of the Harley-Davidson Museum where revelers kicked off the celebration with a bike rally on Thursday.

Nearby, a long procession of the motorcycles, nicknamed "hogs," rumbled onto the museum campus, where riders parked their bikes in tight rows creating a glistening sea of shiny steel.

Riders donned black leather, as well as an assortment of denim, bandanas and Harley-Davidson orange, as they snapped photos, drank beer and marveled at the spectacle.

"It's exciting ... . (There's) a lot of personal satisfaction in doing it," said Fernando Dorantes, 52, an engineer from Toluca, Mexico, where he and seven of his friends began their five-day, 2,600-mile (4,200-km) journey to Milwaukee.

The party spread across several sites in the city, including the SummerFest grounds where bands including ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult and the Doobie Brothers performed.   Continued...

Spectators line the street as Harley riders participate during the the Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary Celebration parade in Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Sara Stathas