By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND - The motorcycles are coming to town. Jack Becker, executive director of Mainstreet DeLand, said rumors that the annual DeLand Bike Rally has been canceled are incorrect. Mainstreet DeLand recently dissolved the DeLand Bike Rally corporation, a subsidiary of Mainstreet, leading many to think the annual motorcycle event was over.
"It will be different than we've done in the past, but there will be a bike rally in the fall and the in spring," Mr. Becker said.
Jim Smith, former president of DeLand Bike Rally, said there might be bike rallies in downtown, but their atmosphere is sure to be different. He said that the eight-year-old bike rally had a lot of community support because organizers worked to fit the event to DeLand. That's why, he said, the event was for one day only, had no liquor sales, discouraged rowdy behavior, and closed up early in the evening.
"Everybody was scared at first; they could only think of Daytona Beach," he said. "When we first started, a lot of the merchants closed up. By the third year, they realized that there was money to be made. It was about a family-friendly event
He said that Mainstreet DeLand's dissolution of the DeLand Bike Rally board was a complete surprise. It happened in early May.
"If they want to run (the rally), and they think they know more than us, be our guest," he said. "They wanted it to go two days and go to midnight, and have hard liquor. We don't do that - we wanted it to be family-friendly. We promised it would always be a one day event and have no open containers."
Mr. Becker said Mainstreet DeLand has no intention of selling any alcohol at future rallies, preferring to let local pubs make money from rally attendees. However, he said hopes are to extend the rally.
"We'll do what we can to help them make it a weeklong celebration of bikes in Central Florida," he said. "DeLand is a bike-friendly city, and we want to keep that image."
Mainstreet DeLand will form a committee to organize future downtown motorcycle events. He said instead of organizers providing stage entertainment on Indiana Avenue, local pubs and restaurants will have live performances. That, he said, is one of many changes Mainstreet hopes to make to the bike rally.
Mr. Smith said that in recent years the rally drew about 60,000 visitors. About 150 regular volunteers met through the year to organize the event.