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NJ Looks to Cancel Motorcycle Fest

April 30, 2002

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OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (AP) _ Officials are trying to cancel a motorcycle festival planned for this summer, citing concerns about violence and excessive noise after a weekend shootout at a Nevada gathering of motorcycle groups.

More than 150,000 people were expected to attend Harley-Davidson’s ``Open Road Tour″ show, planned for Aug. 16-18 at Raceway Park.

Old Bridge officials said Monday that they will ask the speedway’s owners to withdraw their permit application or they will rescind it, a decision that came after a weekend shoot-out between motorcycle gangs left three men dead in Laughlin, Nev.

``If Harley doesn’t like (our decision), well, the safety of our residents comes first,″ Councilman Lawrence Redmond said. ``Raceway Park is a family venue. God forbid some family got in the middle of some gunfire.″

Mike Morgan, a spokesman for Harley-Davidson, and Ken Landerman, manager of Raceway Park, both declined to comment. ``We’re in the position of weighing different options at this point and we have no details″ on the town’s decision, Morgan said.

Harley-Davidson has billed the festival as a family event, and Old Bridge police have said the show would most likely be peaceful. Mayor Barbara Cannon, though, said she felt ``we’re putting (the police) in harm’s way. It’s become a public safety issue.″

Last month, a federal judge allowed Asbury Park to cancel a similar show after a deadly brawl broke out at a Hells Angels convention in Plainview, N.Y., in February. The fight between the Hells Angels and the Pagans motorcycle gangs left one man dead and 10 injured.

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