WILDWOOD — Roar to the Shore is no more, but that won’t necessarily keep the bikers away this weekend.
After 23 years, the annual motorcycle rally that has drawn thousands of bike enthusiasts to the beach resort each September was canceled for 2020. In a Facebook post in July of that year, the organizers cited a lack of city permits.
Still, many riders arrived in Wildwood that first post-Labor Day weekend, same as always. That looks likely to happen again this year.
On Friday, Mayor Pete Byron said there were no scheduled events planned related to the rally, but bikers were still arriving in the city. There are concerts planned in town through the weekend, as there have been all summer, and memorial events planned to observe the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But no Boardwalk rides, no custom bike shows or other hallmarks of the annual event are scheduled.
The roar is still there, though, with the throaty rumble of Harley-Davidsons and other large motorcycles cruising down the Garden State Parkway and over the George Redding Bridge filling the air Friday as the weekend got underway.
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“I guess people just didn’t want to break the tradition,” Byron said. “I hope they all have a good time. The weather’s going to be beautiful.”
Many of the riders he saw in town Friday were wearing denim vests with patches identifying themselves as members of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, Byron said.
“It looks like mostly Pagans colors,” he said, using the term for the vest and patches that identify club membership and territory.
Often described as an outlaw club, the Pagans have drawn the attention of state and federal law enforcement. In June, 11 club members were charged with assault in aid of racketeering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Club members also were charged with weapons and drug offenses.
A report from the State Commission of Investigation, released in September 2020, found the Pagans have been growing their ranks and expanding their territory, challenging longtime rivals the Hells Angels with a strategy aimed at establishing dominance through the East Coast.
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“According to law enforcement estimates, there are approximately 200 Pagans statewide, but the commission found the number of members in New Jersey is probably far greater,” the report states.
The state report described the Wildwood rally as a mandatory event for club members. The report cited several incidents of violence in Wildwood, including the beating of a landlord who attempted to evict a woman connected to the Pagans and the 2017 beating of a bar owner with a pool cue.
The report cites several weapons recovered from club members at the 2017 Roar to the Shore.
“We’re not expecting any problems,” Byron said Friday. He said police will monitor the situation through the weekend.
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