Wildwood’s influence on the doo-wop music world is well documented, but it is events such as the annual Roar to the Shore motorcycle rally that really add credence to the first half of the town’s name.
Roar to the Shore returns to Wildwood for the 22nd summer Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 6 to 9. It is billed as one of the largest and best-loved free motorcycle rallies on the East Coast, ideally situated within easy riding distance of major hubs such as Philadelphia, New York City, and the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area.
A bigger reason for its success and longevity, however, as noted by event organizer Joe Murray, is the accord that has developed over time between the beach town’s city officials, its local law enforcement, restaurant and bar owners, and the rally attendees.
“It’s not just that it’s an enjoyable event with a variety of things to do, it’s also one that people look forward to returning to and seeing old friends,” he says. “It’s become a sort of ideal end-of-summer ritual. One of the main things that gives it that appeal is how well organized it is. We try to bring back the things that people love and add new elements that they might enjoy also.”
Live bands and a beer garden are a constant at the rally, as is an array of vendors of apparel, accessories and assorted goods located at two tented areas. The first is a multi-block stretch of Oak Avenue that will be closed to traffic between Pacific and Atlantic avenues, and the second is directly in front of the Wildwood Convention Center along the boardwalk and Ocean Avenue.
Two special guests returning from a popular appearance at last year’s rally are Jean Davidson and her son, Jon Davidson Oeflein. Jean Davidson is the granddaughter of Harley-Davidson co-founder Walter Davidson. She and her son co-authored the book “Harley-Davidson Family Memories” that features rare family photos, and chronicles the history of one of the world’s oldest and best-known brands of motorcycles. They will be at the Stark and Stark tent 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday to meet guests, and sign copies of their book.
Another special guest, according to Murray, is Luigi “Shorty” Rossi, the former star of the Animal Planet docudrama “Pit Boss” that ran from January 2010 through March 2013. The show chronicled Rossi’s efforts to rescue and relocate neglected and abused pit-bull terriers, and call attention to the often misunderstood temperament of the breed. Rossi and his pit bull Ares will be at the Convention Center vendor lot 10 a.m. Thursday and Friday to meet with guests.
Other special events include the light-up-the-night bike show starting 7:45 p.m. Friday; a custom bike show starting 11:30 a.m. Saturday; a walking poker run 12:30 p.m. Saturday with $1,000 in cash going to the winning hand; a biker-babe contest 7 p.m. Saturday with $1,000 in cash and prizes; and the 12th annual Rubber Duck Boardwalk Ride in which all registered riders are entered into a drawing for a new Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle.