York Bike Night expands to accommodate growing crowd

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

With York Bike Night attracting more and more riders and motorcycle enthusiasts “from across the United States,” organizers are expanding the event into Royal Square, according to the event’s lead planner.

Organizers are expecting up to 20,000 people at the 23rd annual York Bike Night on Friday, Sept. 29, leading them to “expand the footprint” of the event, said Mary Yeaple, a planner with York City Special Events.

The 2016 Bike Night parade Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. Bill Kalina photo

York Bike Night will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in downtown York City. Bike Night festivities will get underway with a motorcycle parade, which departs from the York Expo Center at 6 p.m., Yeaple said. 

Continental Square will still be the “hub of the activity” — with food and motorcycle merchandise vendors, music from several artists and multiple motorcycle displays — but the Bond Building in Royal Square will host the Keystone Collective Art & Bike Show, featuring custom hand-painted bikes and international artwork, Yeaple said.

The event also will stretch into the first block of East Market Street, with face painting, caricature and balloon artists setting up outside the Yorktowne Hotel, which is currently under renovation.

Members of the military, police and fire departments, and other first responders will display their motorcycles in Continental Square after riding in the parade to honor the event’s “To Protect and to Serve” theme. After eventgoers vote for their favorite bike on display, one bike will given a People’s Choice trophy, according to organizers.

After more than two decades, “the annual tradition” of York Bike Night has grown to the point where riders are coming from all over the country, providing an economic boom for local hotels and restaurants, Yeaple said.

“It’s like a family reunion. People come back year after year,” Yeaple said. 

Charitable grand marshal: When more than 1,000 motorcycles roll into Continental Square, they will be led by a 75-year-old U.S. Navy veteran known throughout York County for his charitable work.

Dave Freed, of the Dallastown area, will serve as grand marshal of the 23rd Annual Bike Night after being chosen by a York City Special Events committee for his “long history of community service,” Yeaple said.

Freed, known as “Uncle Dave” to his fellow riders in the York County Harley-Davidson Owners Association and the NDHP Motorcycle Fraternity, helped set up the owners association’s annual David Milliken-Derr Memorial Toy Run. 

For the last decade, he has coordinated an annual 600-motorcycle ride to the Penn State Children’s Hospital at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, according to Freed’s bio. 

"I'm very proud to represent the veterans and the first responders," Freed said. "It's a great privilege and honor."

Harley-Davidson open house: As motorcycle enthusiasts gear up for the 23rd annual Bike Night in York City, Harley-Davidson will be opening the doors of its Springettsbury Township production facility for the factory’s annual open house.

The three-day event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, through Saturday, Sept. 30, at the motorcycle production plant located at 1425 Eden Road in the township. Factory tours and demo rides on the 2018 line will be available.

Featuring performances by motorcycle stunt shows each day, three bands, food and even face painting for children, the open house is a way to attract riders and nonriders, locals and Bike Night tourists alike, said Bernadette Lauer, a Harley-Davidson spokeswoman.

“It’s the one time of the year that we open our doors for everyone,” Lauer said. 

Starting in 1984, the factory has opened its doors for an open house every year but one, when the event was canceled because of construction, Lauer said. 

The York City Police Department and Missouri-based motorcycle stunt crew Ill Conduct will highlight this year’s Harley-Davidson open house with demonstrations and stunt shows each day, Lauer said.

While York City Police showcase officers’ “slow maneuvering” skills on large motorcycles, Ill Conduct will wow crowds with “spectacular, breathtaking stunts,” Lauer said.

Demonstrations by the York City Police Department are scheduled for 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. each day, with Ill Conduct starting its performances 30 minutes later, Lauer said.

Traffic and parking

Drivers in and around downtown York City can expect delays Friday, Sept. 29, as motorcycles "flood downtown" for Bike Night, according to York City Police. 

The first blocks of North George Street and South George Street will close from noon to 11 p.m., according to police. 

The following streets will close from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m.:

  • West Market Street from Pershing Avenue to Queen Street
  • Beaver Street from West King Street to West Philadelphia Street
  • George Street from King Street to Philadelphia Street
  • Pershing Avenue from West Market Street to West Philadelphia Street 

Parking will be restricted on these streets starting at 11 a.m. Only motorcycles will be allowed to park on these streets starting at 3 p.m., according to York City Police. Parking will be available at the Philadelphia Street and King Street garages, but the Market Street garage will be closed. 

York City officials will begin towing motorcycles parked in downtown traffic lanes starting at 10 p.m.