Despite size of crowds at Bike Week, police say emergency situations were few

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    In this photo taken Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Laconia, N.H. venders set up at Weirs Beach getting ready for the thousands of motorcyclists who will visit the area for "Bike Week" starting this weekend. The 90th year of the annual event has mellowed from the riots, raunch and public drinking of decades past to a family affair. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

The Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 6/22/2021 6:02:43 PM

The 98th Laconia Motorcycle Week was, for businesses, one of the busiest in recent years, and at the same time one of the quietest for emergency responders.

“The crowds were really strong. It was orderly. And local businesses had a very good week,” Mayor Andrew Hosmer said. “It was a good bounce-back,” from last year when the event was postponed two months and then heavily scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlie St. Clair, the executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, which promotes the event, said the size of the turnout appeared to be “up a little” compared to 2019.

Police officer Matt Canfield called the nine-day event “one of the quietest in terms of arrests” that he has seen during his 28 years on the police force.

There were 38 arrests all told, he said. They included 12 for assault, two for resisting arrest, and three for DWI.

And although traffic was extremely heavy at times, serious accidents were few.

“A couple of accidents involved serious injuries, but none that were life-threatening,” Fire Chief Kirk Beattie reported. He said his department was called to 13 motorcycle accidents altogether.

Beattie said the first weekend was busier than this past weekend.

St. Clair agreed, explaining that the first weekend covers two days – Saturday and Sunday – while the second weekend essentially wraps up on Saturday night.

St. Clair said business in Weirs Beach was very strong.

He said the vendors he spoke with did well. The same was true of Rally Headquarters, which was selling official Motorcycle Week insignia clothing, and memorabilia. The Laconia Rotary Club, which every year raffles off a new motorcycle to raise money for club projects, had sold all 3,000 raffle tickets by Wednesday.

For hospitality businesses, the event provided a good rebound from the economic setbacks caused by the pandemic.

“It was a fabulous boost to our economy, said Karmen Gifford, president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “People were ready for it.” She added that in spite of the problems many businesses have had in hiring help, “They showed they could handle the crowds.”

Gifford said various Chamber members reported a strong week. For example, she said Bayside Rentals reported business for the week was up 45%. Meanwhile, Ava and David Doyle said their Sun Valley Cottages in Weirs Beach were sold out for all nine days of the event. And Path Resorts, which operates Steele Hill Resorts in Sanbornton, the Summit Resort in Weirs Beach, and the Center Harbor Inn, likewise reported full occupancy.

She said that though she sent out an email to all lodging establishments which belong to the chamber if they needed any assistance in filling vacant rooms, she got no response.

“I think they all did well,” she said. “Restaurants were busy as well.”

All agreed the good weather was a major factor in the large turnout.

The Laconia Fire Department reported close to double the number of calls it would get during a nine-day period during the summer – 204 calls versus 115. But Beattie noted that 50 of those additional calls were due to the gas line incident last Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Canfield reported police handled 1,058 service calls of all types throughout the city for nine days.

Of that number, 429 were for motor vehicle stops, which resulted in 41 drivers being issued traffic summonses and 355 others getting written warnings, he said.

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