An Editorial From Johnny’s

On March 1, 2011, in News, by Charisse

With a population of 4500, Hollister was taken off guard when the influx of somewhere between 2500 and 4000 motorcyclists rolled into town for the Gypsy Tour Races July Fourth weekend in 1947. With a lot of post war steam to blow off, the raucous bikers staged drunken drag races as well as wheelie and burnout displays in the middle of San Benito Street ignoring the sanctioned races taking place at Memorial Park. Local citizens lined the sidewalks to witness the shenanigans and it wasn’t long before the five man police force was overwhelmed. After many arrests were made for drunk in public and disturbing the peace a rebellious sentiment amongst the bikers became evident and Lieutenant Roy McPhail sent out a call for help to the California Highway Patrol. Saturday July 5th shortly before dusk 30 officers armed with tear gas moved into San Benito Street and quickly dispersed the crowd.

Two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle rolled into town on Sunday July 6th to cover the story only to find that the majority of bikers had already gone home. They staged the picture that later appeared in Life Magazine with the caption Cyclists Holiday, He and his Friends Take Over Town. The article inspired Hollywood’s 1953 dramatization of the Hollister incident in the movie, The Wild Ones with Marlon Brando. The movie’s depiction of bikers as amoral, reckless vandals was taken to heart, the mind-set of people towards motorcyclists was forever changed and Hollister’s place in history was sealed. “Wino” Willie Folkner and his Boozefighters made Johnny’s their home that 1947 weekend and the historic bond between them still exists today. For more than sixty years they and many other bikers have been making the trek to Hollister where it all began.

A group of citizens and motorcycle enthusiasts banned together and organized the Hollister Independence Rally Committee in 1996 in an effort to be prepared for the thousands of bikers that would undoubtedly flock to Hollister in 1997, the 50th anniversary of infamous event. They put on a city-sanctioned motorcycle rally from 1996 until 2006 when it was canceled because the committee could not cover the outrageous law enforcement costs.

The Hollister Motorcycle Rally Committee was formed that year and in partnership with Horse Power Promotions the rally was resurrected in 2007. Changes were made to bring down law enforcement costs but they continued to grow. Determined to make the rally a success Seth Dalton stayed on as promoter and the HMC turned over its involvement to the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce for the 2008 rally. The event was moved to the weekend after the fourth; once again an effort to bring down law enforcement costs but the 2008 bill exceeded $349,000.00. The overinflated law enforcement bill and a decision by the city council and promoter to sell t- shirts resulting in a $95,000.00 loss were the nails in the coffin for our treasured event.

Local businesses and citizens are making an effort to organize low-key events that encourage bikers to continue to come to Hollister on Fourth of July weekend and celebrate our heritage regardless of a rally. In the name of freedom and camaraderie we plan to continue the tradition and hope that you will join us in this effort.


7 Responses to An Editorial From Johnny’s

  1. very good put up, i definitely love this website, keep on it

  2. You ought to actually think about working on creating this blog into a serious authority on this subject. You certainly have a grasp of the subjects everyone seems to be interested in on this blog anyhow and you might even earn a buck off of some advertisements. Just a thought, best of luck in whatever you do!

  3. You make some good points. I guess it depends on your standpoint. – It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as ones hat keeps blowing off. – Woody Allen Born 1935

  4. android apps says:

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Johnny’s Bar & Grill
526 San Benito Street
Hollister, CA 95023

Phone: (831) 637-3683
Email Us HERE

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Sunday  Brunch 9 am
Sunday  Bar-B-Que 1 pm

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