Over the Labor Day weekend, Milwaukee was hit with a rolling thunder storm of iron and leather as Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners from around the world cruised into town for four days of celebration marking the 110th Anniversary of The Motor Company.
Over 66 musical acts played at the Summerfest grounds, including Aerosmith, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Doobie Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Many more musical acts played at the Harley-Davidson Museum and several dealerships, such as Hal’s, House of Harley, and Milwaukee Harley. One of the highlights of the event was the surprise appearance by rocker Dave Grohl.
The highlight for the citizens of Milwaukee was a parade of over 6,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles that started at Miller Park and rumbled down Wisconsin Ave, turned onto Milwaukee Street as they headed for Henry W. Maier Festival Park on the shore of Lake Michigan.
The parade lasted nearly two hours as bikes of every shape, size, and year rolled by. Some stock, many one of a kind customs, and a lot of classic bikes. Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Germany, England, Netherlands, and Australia were just a few of the countries that were represented by parade participant riders.
All of the festivities were to celebrate the humble beginnings of one of Milwaukee’s most iconic manufacturing companies, Harley-Davidson, which came about when childhood friends William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson worked together in a tiny 10 by 15 foot wooden shed on their motor-bicycle that was made available to the public in 1903.
In 1988, Harley-Davidson held an 85th Anniversary Celebration, complete with a parade of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The event was so well-received, they've continued to hold a celebration every five years. Now, Milwaukee’s collective ears can recover from the ringing of over 100,000 motorcycles roaring around the city as they prepare for the 115th Anniversary.