“It was a fantastic day, the best Saturday since we’ve been here,” said Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson at a Motorcycle Week press conference held Monday morning at the NASWA Resort on Weirs Boulevard.
He said that one of the added attractions to the ride this year, a trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon where riders go to take two laps around the mile oval and one lap on the 1.6-mile road course, was a definite boost to attendance.
The $42,000 doesn’t top the previous high of $50,000 from two years ago but is expected to increase even more during the week according to Cynthia Makris, president of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association and also president of the NASWA Resort.
The ride is held in honor of Peter Makris, patriarch of the NASWA Resort and community leader, and has become the official kickoff for Laconia Motorcycle Week. In the previous 10 years, over $340,000 has been raised to fund the Laconia Fire Department’s Water Rescue Team, to support the Easter Seals New Hampshire Veterans Count program, the area CERT Emergency Response Team and other local charities, including a 2016 donation of $4,500 to the family of firefighter Kyle Jameson, who lost his battle to cancer just a year ago. Makris said, “we are so grateful to GM Dave McGrath for providing this opportunity to our riders. It is a ‘bucket list’ check for many. It was all that the riders could talk about when they came back here for the party Saturday afternoon.”
Charlie St. Clair, Laconia Bike Week Association executive director, said the Mae West Run, which was held Monday morning to benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society was expected to draw well over 200 bikers and raise over $10,000 for the charity.
“That’s over $50,000 for local charities in just two events. It shows how generous people in the motorcycle community can be,” said St. Clair.
Erickson noted that traffic was extremely heavy over the weekend and at one point was backed up to the traffic circle in Meredith and the Route 11-B intersection in Gilford. “It seemed like people were trying to avoid Weirs Boulevard, which is where we normally see backups. Police said the weekend was “busy but uneventful.”