GALVESTON, TX (KTRK) -- The Lone Star Rally saw scores of bikers descend upon Galveston this weekend. The annual event draws in almost half a million people, according to the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). This year, however, many attendees noted fewer participants due to the rain.
This year marks the rally's 15th anniversary. Today spirits remained high in spite of the weather.
"It's freedom, man. That's all it is -- the freedom to go out and ride and enjoy. That's what I do," said Grant Rollins. He and his best friend Dale Hudson have attended every year. "We come looking for parts. Look at the people. It's just a really good time."
The CVB estimates more than 200,000 motorcycles fill city streets every year. Mary Beth Bassett with the CVB said the rally continues to grow every year and helps to spread the word about Galveston.
"The bikers are quite a network so they come from all corners of the United States. It's not a Houston crowd," said Bassett. "It's nice for the bikers to come to Galveston do their networking and go back to their home state. It helps the event keep growing."
Eyewitness News crews toured streets around the Strand, most of them cordoned off for bikers and pedestrians only. Local vendors, restaurants, and bars catered to the thousands in attendance.
"It's like a bike lover's dream. You see old friends here. You meet new ones. People who ride share a common bond. It's like a brotherhood," explained attendee Ricky Chaffin. "You can check out other people's rides, buy and sell parts, see the latest models, and just be yourself."
Men and women in leather abound. Biker gear, a prominent feature of the event, was on sale at almost every venue.
"There's shopping, there's food, there's booze, there's hot dudes. Good times!" said Rachel Garret, a regular attendee.
"If you've ever been to Galveston and been down the Strand and you see how intimate it is, that is what really makes this rally work. I think the people of Galveston really welcome this rally and event," said Gray. "That's what made it grow through the years."
Local merchants agree. Seal Grief, owner of "Christmas on the Strand for more than 30 years, says the bikers are some of her favorite tourists.
"There's a lot of noise with the (motorcycle) engines, but they are extremely polite. They come in the store a lot, which isn't something you'd expect from burly bikers. Then they come back, many with their families, to shop for the holidays. It's good for us, good for the hotels, and good for Galveston. I'm all for it," Ms. Grief said.
The rally also features live music on three separate stages, a full event guide, and dozens of activities for motorcycle enthusiasts.
For more information about the rally, head over to their website: http://www.lonestarrally.com/
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