Harley street parade: Santa Claus, Batman and Catwoman were among the record 6000-plus riders who paraded through Milwaukee streets for the Harley-Davidson 110th birthday celebrations.
Led off by Wisconsin State police, the parade was watched by many thousands more who filled the city sidewalks hours earlier, eating hot dogs and drinking margaritas from kerbside vendors. The Harley street parade of riders is so big now, riders are invited or draw lots to attend. There were riders from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and as far as Australia.
The first nationality to feature was a dozen Belgians who had their vintage World War II shipped over for the occasion.
Riders slapped hands with spectators as the bikes thundered through the concrete canyons down toward Lake Michigan for a big party that will go all weekend.
Among the riders were several select Harley executives such as chief marketing manager Mark-Hans Richer, riding nonchalantly with the pack.
While the crowd cheered enthusiastically from the sidewalks and building porches, the biggest cheers were reserved for the police and any bike proudly flying “Old Glory”.
Flags were a main feature of the parade, as were funny hats, costumes, face paint and loud exhaust pipes.
One rider did a burnout in Wisconsin Avenue, much to the delight and encouragement of the spectators, until a police officer stepped in and ended the fun. However, the bike police were a crowd favourite in the parade and patrolling the area.
One officer gladly posed for me with his speed gun on the riders, others allowed members of the public to sit on their bikes for photographs.
All types of Harley were present – as well as one Gold Wing that cheekily snuck in – including a group of Easy Rider choppers, rat bikes and customs, but mainly big Touring bikes with plenty of chrome and hot paint jobs.
While the crowd recorded every second of the more-than-one-hour spectacle, a lot of the riders and their pillions also took the opportunity to shoot photos and videos with their cameras, phones and iPads.
There was a lot of grey on the non-helmeted heads, but also a lot more young riders, women and African-Americans than at the 205th anniversary.
All had smiles that were infectious. It will be a moment they will never forget.