Motorcycle enthusiasts are flocking to Port Dover, Ontario for an annual Friday the 13th meetup — pandemic be damned. Local police have issued warnings, cautioning drivers in the area to check their surroundings and prepare for road closures. Despite it being declared a “non-event” by Norfolk County, tons of people are still rolling up, ignoring the requests from local officials to stay away.
Tens of thousands of bikers show up to this event on normal years, filling the region of Port Dover with the roar of Harley-Davidsons. It’s been a tradition since 1981, according to CBC News. This year and in 2020, though, officials have urged people not to gather for the event.
The crowd is certainly smaller this year than in the past, but many have shown up nonetheless. CHCH reporter Jason Gaidola said earlier today that crowds “likely in the thousands” are expected to attend today’s event.
— Andrew Collins (@ACollinsPhoto) August 13, 2021
Local health officials are concerned about the impact of the event on COVID-19 spread, especially as the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally event takes place in South Dakota. The U.S. rally was deemed a “super spreader” event in 2020 and is expected to draw up to 700,000 people in 2021, according to USA Today.
“Having visitors from all over Ontario and the country coming to our location puts unnecessary stress on our health teams, on our residents and on our emergency services,” said Norfolk County’s chief of paramedic services to CBC.
Lots of bikers opting for the old favourites, lining up at The Arbor, Callahans, and even the Erie Beach. pic.twitter.com/IqHstaNBeE
— Susan Gamble (@EXPSGamble) August 13, 2021
However, it seems that the efforts to deter people from gathering have paid off. OPP posted a video on Friday saying that while the event had a “slow start,” motorcycle enthusiasts are continuing to arrive throughout the day.