H.O.G. rally cures the shutdown blues (PHOTOS and SCHEDULE)


Harley Davidson owners from all around the state will descend on the emerald coast Sept. 22-26 for the state H.O.G. rally. The event will celebrate the 110th anniversary of Harley Davidson and the 30th anniversary of H.O.G.

Special to The Log
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM.

The Harley Owners Group's state rally is bringing a much-needed economic boost to the Emerald Coast this week.

Organizers don't know exactly how many people will descend on the Destin area for the five-day event, but coordinator Bruce Fuller said at least three area hotels are completely sold out, another is nearly full and the RV park on Okaloosa Island is booked solid.

Ramada Plaza Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island is the host site of the event, which is expected to have an economic impact of more than $2 million on the area. General Manager Joe Guidry told The Log that the recent shutdown of several federal government departments has forced the cancellation of a couple of events that were scheduled at the resort this month. Not having those events is a major blow to the hotel's October income.

"I've lost $175,000 in business this month alone off of that stuff," Guidry said. "The H.O.G. is really what's going to save us for this month."

H.O.G. is not your typical motorcycle group. It is owned and operated by Harley Davidson, which started the group in 1983. More than a million members worldwide are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the group this year.

Guidry said he worked with H.O.G. when the Emerald Grande hosted the rallies in 2010 and 2011, and said that the group doesn't bring the overly rowdy atmosphere for which many motorcycle groups are notorious.

Most of the rally is open to the public, including a Harley show at The Palms Resort, vendors at The Boardwalk throughout the rally, shows by motorcycle drill teams, a concert by the Coal Mountain Band at The Palms, two shows by daredevil Bubba Blackwell, who has broken every motorcycle jumping world record previously held by Evel Knievel, and a parade of flags starting at the Ramada and ending at The Palms.

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