Harley Riders Come For Good Times, Leave Big Bucks

They were loud. They were noisy. They crowded the streets of Tyler.

And most importantly, they brought lots of money.

More than 6000 people came to Tyler for last weekend's Texas Harley Owners Group Rally.

"The estimated economic impact," Pene Bridges of the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau says, "We've tallied at right at 1.8 million dollars, so that's a huge impact just for a weekend event."

Bikers from all over the country were in town all weekend, riding the roads, making friends, and spending money, in an unprecedented Tyler tourism event.

"This is really the biggest single meeting that I can remember in history," Bridges says. "I've been working here seven years but even prior to that, I don't remember having a single meeting that's been this large in town."

While bikers came and stayed, Tyler rolled out the red carpet and made them feel right at home. Orrin Latch of Lone Star Harley Davidson says the bikers enjoyed their time in town.

"In the places they stayed, the people welcomed them and appreciated them coming to Tyler. They just had a wonderful time."

The roads weren't the only things that were overflowing, businesses were seeing a difference as well. At Dwayne's Country Cafe, their business increased by thirty percent.

"They were a great bunch of folks," Dwayne's manager Richard Kidd said. "They spent a lot of money in Tyler. Not just here, but I've talked to a bunch of folks that have seen an increase in their business."

So in a city known for its roses and azaleas, the biggest event of the year came rolling on two wheels and t-shirts.

"I heard one local hog member say 'Tyler's finally cool!' I thought that was kind of funny, and it is a different event for us, that's for sure."

So say goodbye for now to the Harley riders, but after bringing in 1.8 million, you may see them again real soon.

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.