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Biker fest nixed because it doesn’t fit Wildwood’s ‘family-friendly image,’ mayor says

Published in General News

Wildwood is no place for The Wild One.

That’s the message behind the city’s denial of permit for the Roar to the Shore motorcycle rally that’s drawn thousands of bikers every September for more than two decades, after the mayor of the kitschy Jersey Shore resort said the tide of bad behavior, residents’ complaints and police overtime costs had risen too high.

“It doesn’t really fit in with the family-friendly atmosphere that Wildwood’s trying to project,” Mayor Pete Byron told NJ Advance Media, confirming announcements on the event’s website and Facebook page.

“It is with great regrets that after 23 years we are forced to cancel Roar to the Shore Motorcycle rally, due to circumstances beyond our control,” the organizers posted on the event’s Facebook page on Friday. “The City of Wildwood has determined that the Rally no longer fits the image of the city and has chosen to deny all permits necessary to host event.”

But beyond bikers’ rowdy ways, what led to the city to deny the ‘Roar’s permit application early last spring, the mayor said, was an increasing number of arrests for violent crimes and the presence of more hard-core motorcycle gang members — mythologized in the 1953 Marlon Brando film “The Wild One” — whose presence was intimidating to the weekend riders on expensive, gleaming bikes that the event had traditionally attracted.

“It was a great event, it truly was. Some of these motorcycles are worth more than cars. I personally enjoyed it, my family did,” Byron said. “But when you have to have snipers on tops of roofs and you have to explain to children why there are snipers, it’s time for a change.”

The event’s organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via the Facebook page.

Several comments posted on the page following the announcement expressed disappointment at the permit’s denial, and questioned the wisdom of blocking an event that has long been an economic boost to the city. The mayor downplayed the assertion, insisting the first weekend after Labor Day, when the event has traditionally been held, would still be busy for the city, famous for its hugely broad beach, boardwalk amusements and whimsical Du-Wop architecture of the 1950s and 60s.

One post, by a self-described lover of beaches, bikes and the freedom they represent, seemed to confirm the mayor’s assertion about gangs, while still cursing the event’s cancellation.

“…The government is taking everything away from us,” she wrote.

2020 Roar of the Shore biker fest cancelled
The Roar of the Shore motorcycle festival, an annual even in Wildwood, was cancelled this year, after being denied a permit by the city. The mayor said an increasingly menacing tone no longer fit the family-friendly image Wildwood was trying to cultivate.Roar to the Shore
Location: New Jersey
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