by Michael Mortensen from https://www.concordmonitor.com
With the cloud of COVID largely lifted, motorcyclists returned in droves over the weekend to mark the start of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
Weirs Beach, the traditional epicenter of the event, was bustling by mid-morning Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be a banner week,” predicted Mayor Andrew Hosmer, who did walkabouts in The Weirs with City Manager Scott Myers on Saturday and Sunday.
Public safety officials reported the kick-off to the event, which wraps up this coming weekend, was largely trouble-free.
“There were large crowds, but very few police events,” Police Chief Matt Canfield said during a news conference Monday morning at the Naswa Resort.
Hosmer agreed that things have been going smoothly.
“It’s a good atmosphere,” he said during a telephone interview Monday.
The weather – with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70s, coupled with low humidity – helped bring out the crowds.
Motorcyclists began pouring into the area on Saturday. Parking spaces on Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach, which during the nine-day event are for motorcycles only, were mostly taken by mid-morning Saturday.
Bikers strolled up and down the street browsing and buying from vendors who were hawking all sorts of biker paraphernalia, as well as from local nonprofits like the Laconia Kiwanis Club, whose members were selling cold bottled water and soda.
Members of the National Guard were stationed at a tent next to Rally Headquarters on the boardwalk offering COVID vaccinations. About three dozen people were vaccinated over the weekend, according to Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. The clinic will continue for the rest of the week.
“The state is trying to get out to events like this (to set up vaccination clinics), ” Laconia Fire Chief Kirk Beattie explained.
The fire chief told the news conference that his department handled six motorcycle-related accidents over the weekend, including crashes on Roller Coaster Road, and on Weirs Boulevard. Some involved serious injuries, he said, but none of the injuries were life-threatening.
A traffic accident shortly after midnight Saturday at the intersection of Endicott Street North (Route 3) and Watson Road resulted in one person being arrested for DWI, according to the Laconia Police Department activity log.
Police investigated 17 accidents, of which seven resulted in injuries, Canfield said. Four people were arrested for simple assault, including two for assaulting an officer, the chief said. All told, police handled 341 service calls citywide over the weekend, Canfield said.
Beattie said firefighters/EMTs responded to 31 calls Saturday, 2½ times the 13-call average of a typical Saturday. On Sunday, the volume of calls was about that for a normal Sunday during the summer, he said.
Canfield said officers reported few problems in and around The Weirs.
“We were busier downtown,” he said.
In a departure from past years, police presence in The Weirs is being handled largely by Laconia officers. State Police and officers from other agencies are largely handling traffic enforcement in surrounding communities, he explained.
Motorcycle Week features a number of special events, kicking off with the Peter Makris Memorial Run on Saturday which attracted 250 riders, including about 40 members of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club. The turnout was one of the largest ever for the event, which began 15 years ago, The ride helps raise money for various veterans charities, the Belknap House homeless shelter and the Laconia Fire Department’s water rescue lifesaving fund. Last year’s run was limited to just 100 riders because of COVID.
With rain in the forecast for Monday, the Mae West Memorial Ride to benefit local animal shelters was postponed until Thursday