thousand Harley-Davidsons, their riders wearing anything from Hog
masks and feather boas to black leather,
roared through the city on a parade celebrating the company's 100th
The event was as much a tapestry
of red, white and blue as the motorcycle icon's signature orange
and black. One Harley rider festooned
his bike with two dozen American flags.
Willie G. Davidson, a grandson of Harley-Davidson's co-founder,
and his wife, Nancy, led the eight-mile parade, followed by riders
on bikes toting large Harley flags
representing riders' clubs from all over the world.
Riders gunned their engines, honked
their horns and waved to onlookers. Many riding on the backs of
bikes held video cameras. A few stretched out their arms to slap
the palms of spectators.
One wore a Santa suit and had Mrs. Claus perched
behind him. Others wore Viking
horns, jester hats, animal-skin caps
and Uncle Sam top hats.
"It was the coolest thing I ever did in my life," said
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who
also is former governor of Wisconsin, rode a borrowed Harley because
his bike was in Washington, D.C.
the end of the route, riders passed under a banner picturing Harley's
four founders, who began manufacturing motorcycles in Milwaukee
in 1903. Four black-and-orange semis
bought up the parade's rear.
Some of the motorcyclists were picked to participate in the parade
because they had raised at least ,300 for the Muscular
Dystrophy Association. Milwaukee-based Harley has a 23-year
history with the association and hoped to raise more than million
for the group during the Labor Day weekend.
The parade was a highlight of Harley's four-day anniversary celebration,
which also includes motorcycle exhibits, memorabilia
sales and live entertainment centered along Lake Michigan's
As spectators in T-shirts and shorts mingled with those in denim
and leather, at least one neighbor worried about the noise.
The Milwaukee County Zoo took precautions to protect its more than
2,000 animals from the roar in the parking lot just outside, where
the parade began, keeping many of the animals inside until the riders
The celebration, expected to draw 200,000 to 300,000 people, concludes
a birthday party featuring music and fireworks beside Lake Michigan.