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Platte City End of the Trail Rally and Street Dance

Written by  September 30, 2004

In conjunction with the Kansas City Harley-Davidson Assembly Plant Open House, Platte City, for the second year in a row, kicked off the End of the Trail Rally and Street Dance in downtown Platte City Friday evening, September 10. In 2003, when the city of Weston decided, at the last minute, that they did not want to host the 2003 Harley Owners Group rally, Platte City stepped up, and with only 56 days to plan and organize the event, they successfully welcomed a crowd estimated at over 5,000 into their town for the first End of the Trail rally. With the support of the Platte City Aldermen, the Platte City police as well as citizens and local merchants, the City of Platte City decided to make the rally an annual event, and once again welcomed bikers into their community in hopes that the rally will someday become the "Sturgis of the Midwest," according to Chief of Police Joseph McHale. The 2004 End of the Trail rally officially began Friday evening with cruise night followed by live music by Boomerz and continued on through Saturday with a parade and street dance closing out this year’s festivities.

The rally was held on Main Street in downtown Platte City, a town of less than 5,000, located about 20 minutes north of downtown Kansas City on I-29. It's easy to find--less than a half mile off the interstate. Parking was convenient; side streets and business parking lots had been designated for bike parking, and most bikes were parked less than a block away from the action. Vendor booths lined both sides of Main Street, which was entirely blocked off from traffic. The bandstand was set up with the county courthouse as a backdrop and bales of straw arranged in the street to provide seating for the performance.

This rally is geared more toward a family-friendly environment, so the crowd included people from the community as well as bikers. The Platte City police force, which fully supports this event, was present directing traffic and overseeing the crowd. Police Chief McHale, as a former Kansas City Police Department motorcycle officer, not only understands those who ride but also seems to be fully supported by his officers. I have never seen law enforcement at such an event friendlier or more willing to let people enjoy themselves. McHale and his officers are to be applauded for their lack of any heavy handedness and their professional attitudes.

Vendors included booths selling articles of biker interest as well as products that appealed to the general community. Many Main Street merchants, as well as eating and drinking establishments, took advantage of the opportunity to serve the rally-goers. On a side note, when was the last time you paid $3 for a 24-ounce beer at a rally? The Pirates Cove Bar & Grill was a very popular spot as they were selling $3 beer outside and were open to serve both food and drinks inside. One particular vendor highlight was Tracy Daniels’ booth, “Get a Woody.” Tracy is a very artistic wood carver whose choice of carving instruments happens to be a chainsaw. I am hoping to find a large chainsaw- carved Harley bar and shield plaque in my Christmas stocking.

The parade began at the Platte County High School and the route led about 150 bikes to the courthouse, around the block and down Third Street, ending back on Main. The famous Anaconda 10 passenger limo-bike drew much of the crowd’s attention.

Kansas City area band, Boomerz provided the music both nights of the rally. The band’s outstanding musical talent combined with their personality and ability to communicate with the crowd apparently appealed to all ages judging from the broad span of generations who filled the dance area. Their play list included well-known classics and southern rock to more contemporary hits.

The rally attracted both riders and community members, and although the crowd was smaller than last year, nearly 3000 people were present Saturday evening when Boomerz took the stage. According to Alderman George McClintock, the city hopes that next year will be even bigger and better. The rally planning committee, which includes a number of local riders, would like to add a poker run and an organized ride to the schedule of events next year.

As northlanders ourselves, we can only wish Platte City our best for the future of the End of the Trail Rally. “Sturgis of the Midwest”--probably not--but a rally at our back door where there is plenty of fun to be had while still providing a family atmosphere should be welcomed and supported by all of us. The northland area has a lot to offer in terms of attracting riders from local areas as well as from out of town. There are many miles of scenic rural roads to explore and many attractions for out-of-town visitors. The city officials, merchants and residents have all shown genuine enthusiasm and have gone to a lot of effort to make this a success. With proper planning, good organization, and support from each of us, this rally could really grow to be something special.

Story and photos by Loney & Stephanie Wilcoxson