Friday, August 16, 2013

Motorcycle Mania Boasts Huge Turnout, Artful Bikes on Display

Motorcyle Mania 2014 
brought out over 5,000 bikes
The 8th annual Motorcycle Mania on Wednesday from 5 to 7 pm August 14th 2013 drew over 5,000 motorcycles to downtown Middletown. The festival, organized by the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, featured four bandstands with a variety of music, vendors, and food trucks. Every restaurant on Main Street with outdoor seating saw a boom in business that evening customers pouring out the door. The Hunter Family, in memory of Dan Hunter ,a motorcycle enthusiast killed in a accident on his bike, is a large sponsor of the annual event. The Haymond Law Firm with a bevy of female models in tow, among many other sponsors, were out in full force. Lawyer John Haymond posed with fans for photos. Bikes, trikes, and vehicles with side cars parked from the South Green all the way up to the intersection of Washington and Main for the event. saw Bikes with plates from Maine to New Jersey were on display.  Local motorcycle clubs and custom shops turned out. Fat City Cycle owed by local Johnny Moore, at shop which  is a staple in the northend City owned Remington Rand Factory Building, had examples of its impressive custom work on display.Various charitable organizations such as Disabled Veterans of Connecticut and the Kiwanis Club of Middletown were in attendance at the family event which drew an estimated 10,000 people.  

 From our observations, no other street festival that Middletown has boasts this many people turning out, nor can compare to the revenue that local restaurants and cafes seemed to be taking in judging from the lines out the doors and full street seating. Kiwanis of Middletown sold grinders to benefit their annual scholarship fund and Warm the Children campaign. The committee chair of the event on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce is Richard Greco. 

While many residents have taken to online rants to complain of the loud drone of the exhaust of these vehicles cutting into their peaceful midsummer evening, fact is thousands of locals and citizens from afar of all ages enjoyed a fun, family friendly, inexpensive evening downtown with motorcycles on display that could truly be called nothing less than works of art and  engineering ingenuity.

Middletown Kiwanis President Chris Conely, and member Dave Darling man the club's booth which sold grinders as a fundraiser for the club's charitable causes such as the  scholarship fund and Warm the Children Campaigns

Vintage cycles, custom bikes, and bikes with side cars like this one featured were on display. Eager owners answered questions and allowed pretty much anyone interested to pose next to their bikes for a photo.
Custom paint jobs and chrome dominated many motorcycle bodies, as well as special leather accessories also available for purchase from vendors at the event.
An old school style ride  has  white washed ties 
and broad fenders, but a totally new school exhaust system.
As in this photo of a embracing couple, love was in the air at Motorcycle Mania. Love of chrome, noise, leather, family, and comradery among the biker community and its following.

This  white bike has an extra large "dashboard." The owner said it was so his wife, a frequent passenger on the back, could dock her ipod and provide tunes as they cruise; an innovation the owner said that many motorcycles don't come with.

The South Green was overflowing this year with cycles of all makes and models.

1 comment:

  1. Gary Keating (no relation but our family has done extensive research on Robert M. Keating)August 17, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    The building in this article described as the " Remington Rand " building was designed and built in 1896 by Robert M. Keating, for the sole purpose of making world-class bicycles, the most popular mode of transportation at the time. The "Keating Wheel Company" was one of the first factories run by electricity in the USA. The factory made bicycles, then progressed on to develop horseless carriages, cars, trucks, and eventually motorcycles. Robert M.Keating’s patent for a motorcycle in 1901 predates "Indian" by a year!!!!! Keating’s patents in this area allowed motorcycle greats such as Indian and Harley Davidson to develop their own cycles. In fact, Keating sued both companies for patent infringement and won both cases. There needs to be a more concentrated effort by the media, and Middletown officials, to have the buildings original builder and designer acknowledged for his patents, and innovations, and historical significant in Middletown history. The building should be recognized as the "Keating Wheel Company". Robert M.Keating holds a much more romantic, innovative, and historically important role in Middletown's history then Remington Rand!!!!!!! Just because Remington Rand was the last occupier of the building should not limit the buildings true history and its importance in U.S.A. and Middletown history of transportation development.

    Keating's 1901 motorcycle puttered down Main Street in Middletown the same time that Oscar Hedstrom was working out the kinks of his own machine -- the prototype that would become the Indian. At the time, Middletown was the undisputed Motor City when it came to the American motorcycle. Keating's machine went to market months before Hedstrom's prototype and became popular enough to force Hedstrom and George Hendee of Indian fame to "borrow" key features to make their product competitive. As noted, Harley and Davidson would later borrow the same components. 

Keating was also one of the nation's earliest commercial automobile manufacturers -- both electric and gasoline powered. The historic parade that celebrated Middletown's 250th birthday, held in October of 1900, included four Keating Company vehicles -- including a motorized runabout. It would another year before Henry Ford started building his historic machines. (R.M.Keating family lore has it that Keating spent some time with Ford, helping him with factory design and assembly line production such as that already occurring in Middletown.) The factory then went on to host the Eisenhuth Compound automobile, one of the most innovative machines of the "brass era." Indeed, Middletown was one of the few American cities in the nation that was actively engaged in building automobiles. In CT, Middletown was second only to Hartford's Pope Company which was arguably the biggest in the nation at the time.

The point is, Middletown's history and the history of that remarkable historical asset on Johnson street is not about typewriters. It's about 19th century industrial innovation in America. Specifically, it's all about the pioneering efforts that forever changed the nation's transportation history. No exaggeration. Middletown owns that distinction and should celebrate it. With some creative thinking and planning (what Keating would have called "Yankee Ingenuity"), that distinction might also be branded to attract interests (and dollars) towards historic preservation, tourism and economic development.


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