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Harley-Davidson Holds Parade

June 13, 1998

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ An army of black leather- and denim-wearing bikers rumbled through the city streets Saturday, capping off nearly a week of celebrating the 95th anniversary of motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson.

``It’s breathtaking,″ said Milwaukee insurance salesman Jim Moeckler as he waited to join the parade. ``Every time I look at these bikes that go by, it makes me choke up.″

At least 50,000 bikers lined up for the parade, a river of steel, rubber, iron and leather that stretched more than 25 blocks into Milwaukee’s suburbs. Most bikers killed time by revving up their motorcycles with a rumble that could be heard for miles.

The parade, led by ``Tonight Show″ host Jay Leno, was the culmination of activities that brought more than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world to the birthplace and headquarters of Harley-Davidson.

The motorcade snaked through the streets and ended at a city park on the shores of Lake Michigan, where a festival offering beer, rock ‘n’ roll and an antique Harley exhibit waited for riders.

Alongside Leno was Gov. Tommy Thompson, who rode a Harley-Davidson police bike. Other celebrities also showed up, including Peter Fonda, whose ``Easy Rider″ movie nearly 30 years ago featured a motorcycle trip across America.

Many riders were middle-aged men who were doctors, lawyers, and business executives during the week, but donned leather and denim on the weekends to cut loose from the daily grind.

``You get to pretend to be a kind of bad guy, but you’re not really,″ said Gary Glojek, an attorney and municipal judge in Pewaukee.

One man was killed earlier in the day when his motorcycle collided with a jeep. Police said the man, who was not wearing a helmet, was riding his Harley the wrong way down a one-way street.

Few of the riders in the parade wore helmets, saying they traveled at such slow speeds that they did not need them.

Hundreds of spectators who lined the route cheered on the riders. One boy along a road held cardboard sign reading: ``Make some noise.″

The horde of bikers didn’t need much prompting to respond, much to the delight of Dean Belcher.

``Nothing else sounds like a Harley,″ Belcher said.

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