WASHINGTON (AP) _ London artists Steve Wood and Clive Morris said they wanted to create a tribute to freedom when they set out to produce a giant bronze replica of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

But when they tried to display their 10-foot-tall, 5 1/2-ton artwork at Harley Davidson's 100th anniversary ``Ride Home'' kickoff here Thursday, company officials had police shoo them away.

Wood and Clive had their truck parked on a public street, but it had been reserved by Harley Davidson for its commemoration ceremonies. The duo then pulled the truck onto Pennsylvania Avenue and parked in front of the Canadian Embassy.

``To us, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle depicts personal freedom,'' said Wood, 47. ``This is kind of ironic.''

Company chairman and chief executive Jeffrey Bleustein said Harley-Davidson selected others to do official artwork for the 100th anniversary.

``These guys didn't make the cut,'' he said. ``They've been very persistent. We have a permit for motorcycle parking and that's about it.''

Thursday's event kicked off Harley-Davidson's Northeast ``Ride Home'' to Milwaukee, where the company is based. The company is also organizing rides from the Northwest, Southwest and South Central regions.

The festivities will culminate in a giant birthday celebration on Milwaukee's Lake Michigan waterfront on August 31.

The Washington commemoration, held on the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, was sparsely attended. The company provided live music, clowns and a traveling exhibit which had bikes from all eras, including a 1913 Model E-9.

``Harley's like apple pie and baseball _ you don't get any more American,'' said Bob Berger, 48, who made the ride from Redding, Pa., on his 2003 Heritage Softail Classic.

Tony Scinta, 44, said he paid $25 for his first Harley, a 1952 three-wheeler. He paid $32,000 for his current bike, a 2003 Screaming Eagle Road King.

``Harley-Davidson's the American dream,'' said Scinta, of Buffalo, N.Y. ``It's not the smoothest or the fastest, but it's a Harley.''

Bleustein said the company hopes the ride will raise $5 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In the past 22 years, Harley-Davidson has raised $40 million for the group.

Earlier in the day, Bleustein met with White House officials, including Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor who rides two Harley bikes.

The ``Ride Home,'' which begins Friday, includes stops in Harrisburg, Pa.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Dearborn, Mich.; and Michigan City, Ind.

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On the Net: Harley-Davidson 100th anniversary:

http://www.harley-davidson.com/AN/100/TRH/en/ridehome.asp?bmLocaleen_US