LACONIA — Though there may have been a few less people at Motorcycle Week 2015, the week was a great success, in part thanks to the weather.
Jennifer Anderson, director of Motorcycle Week 2015, said aside from two rainy days early last week, the turnout was strong, money was raised for the city from events, and bikers enjoyed themselves.
The official attendance numbers weren’t available Sunday, but attendees and police said it appeared the crowds were a bit smaller than in years past, especially compared to the event’s heyday.
Motorcycle Week officials were expecting a slight drop because the rally in Sturgis, S.D., in August is that rally’s 75th anniversary. Since the recession a few years back, the numbers at all rallies have been down, and now bikers sometimes choose only one rally to go to each summer, Anderson said.
Laconia is the oldest such celebration, and is looking forward to its own anniversary. This year was the 92nd event in Laconia, so the 100th will be special, she said.
“People these days sometimes decide they can only go to one rally, so if there were less people here this year, it’s probably because they went to Sturgis. We expected some impact from that,” Anderson said.
Overall, she said, “it was a great week.”
“We had a lot of really happy bikers here,” she said. “We did have one fatality; it was perfect aside from that.”
In years past, there have been several fatalities from motorcycle crashes during the weeklong event. Last year there were two. This year, there had been no fatalities until a motorcycle crash killed a biker in Gilmanton Saturday afternoon.
“We almost had no fatalities,” she said. “It’s too bad that one happened in the last few hours.”
Police made a large number of arrests, though the numbers hadn’t been tabulated as of Sunday. Law enforcement had few problems during the week, mostly arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, said Detective Sgt. Thomas E. Swett.
There was no problem with motorcycle gangs, though several were present, Swett acknowledged.
There had been some concern from observers because of a gang fight in May in Waco, Texas, in which nine people were killed. That battle involved both a gang alllied with the Hells Angels and another which has a longstanding rivalry with Hells Angels. The Hells Angels own property in the Laconia area.
Several Hells Angels members were walking through the Weirs on Saturday, as were members of the Legion of Doom and the Caretakers of New York. But there were no fights.
“There are always a lot of different groups, and gangs, at Motorcycle Week,” Swett said. “They didn’t cause any problems. We didn’t expect any problems.”