Jon Marrs used a soft cloth to wipe down his metallic blue Harley-Davidson touring bike.
The motorcyle, a monster at roughly 950 pounds, gleamed brilliantly in the sun. Still, Marrs kept at it, not wanting to miss any dust, returning for another rub. And another.
Marrs and his wife Katie are in Hog heaven.
Oak Harbor, their home for 20-plus years, is the host city for the 2013 Washington State Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Rally.
Already, more than 360 riders have registered for the event, which will take place July 18-20.
The event will include a parade through downtown on the first night.
“This is going to be a good opportunity to show off the island,” Jon Marrs said.
The annual event is normally staged in the warmer climes of Eastern Washington, but rally coordinator Vince Danner opted to take a chance on a westside location in 2013 in what could be the final year of state H.O.G. rallies. They are considering going to regional rallies in the future.
Danner pushed for Oak Harbor because of its small-town feel, abundance of scenic riding opportunities and ample lodging.
Last year, Omak hosted the rally.
“This time, I just thought it would be fun,” said Danner, who lives in Stanwood. “Most people are familiar with Deception Pass. Most of the people on motorcycles, their experience with Whidbey Island is Clinton and Mukilteo and going to Anacortes for the Oyster Run. I thought it would be kind of neat to give them more of an opportunity to see more of the island than the central highway that runs down the middle.”
Multiple rides are scheduled on and off the island over the three days, including the July 18 parade, which will go from 6-7 p.m.
The parade will be staged at the Coachman Inn & Suites. Riders will travel down Midway Boulevard, Pioneer Way and Ely Street before returning to the hotel.
“I think it’s awesome myself,” said Katie Marrs, who works for the Oak Harbor School District. “It’s just like it’s in our own backyard. Everybody has their idea of what motorcyclists are. Last year, I was the director of Ladies of Harley (for the North Cascades chapter). Our group does a lot of fundraising for different people.”
Skagit Harley-Davidson, a dealership in Burlington, is the hub for the North Cascades chapter. The dealership is owned by Oak Harbor residents Fred and Lorie Smith.
Katie Marrs said the North Cascades chapter has held fundraisers for Muscular Dystrophy, American Cancer Society and Phoenix Burn Camp, supported food banks and adopted families for Christmas.
Katie said she and her husband were riding Harleys even before they got married nearly 19 years ago. And now, it’s a passion they share together.
Danner said at least 10 states and three countries will be represented in Oak Harbor. The event is sponsored by the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce and the Fleet Reserve Association Branch 97. The Elks club will host many functions.
“It’s about getting people together that are like-minded and enjoy riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycles and giving them an opportunity to ride and enjoy themselves,” he said.