GOWANDA — Memorial Day may have come and gone, but the miniature flags and communal excitement were on full display in Gowanda Friday night.
Hundreds of people celebrated and cheered on the motorcyclists that rode through the village to kick-off the 20th annual Hollywood Happening.
The parade lasted 10 minutes and featured more than 100 different bikes.
The riders come from all over the country, but local resident Bill Duncan has been participating for 20 years. He rode with Pamela Witter, a first-time rider in the event.
“Good music,” Duncan said. “Good food. Good crowd. It’s a good community thing. It gets everyone together and makes a little money for everybody.”
That money goes to benefit restoration of the 1926 Hollywood Theatre. Three more projects will start later this month. The floor, seating and balcony should all be completed by the end of this year, organizers added. After this event, they will have enough money for matching grants to finish the project.
Once the motorcycle parade finished, the onlookers and riders moved to a Main Street lot packed with food tents, shops and live music.
The most common brand sold in the tents? Harley Davidson.
“It’s just part of the family heritage,” said Duncan, whose brother-in-law owns the Gowanda Harley store.
Country rock band BarKing Spiders then performed after remarks and appreciation from local officials and event organizers.
They anticipate around 11,000 people over the entirety of the event, which will run until Sunday.
Those hoping to make the event will not have to wait very long. A demo fleet will take place at 10 a.m. today, and vendors will open at 11 a.m. The beer tent opens at noon.
Among other activities throughout the day: Theater foundation charity run; Wicked Glenn Tattoo Contest; “Rebel on the Highway,” an independent biker movie; a ride-in bike show and multiple live music performances.
Today, Rhett Rotten’s Wall of Death Motorcycle Stunt Show will take place at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on the west end lot behind the theater.
Vapor, an ’80s classics cover band, will perform early in the afternoon, while Turbulence, a local favorite, will play in the evening.
Local residents have plenty of opportunities over the next two days to have fun while helping the community. It is an event for all ages, Witter said.
“Kids get to see all the bikes, and they get pretty excited. The kids were all waving. It was pretty cool.”