H-D riders leave La Crosse area, head to Milwaukee for 115th party: 'That's when the fun really starts'

LA CROSSE -- Thousands of Harley-Davidson riders roared into Milwaukee Tuesday, Aug. 28 for H-D's 115th anniversary celebration, attracting Harley owners from across the country and around the world.

Riders had been traveling for eight days. They reached Onalaska on their way to Madison and Milwaukee.

"I started in Spokane. It's just been great," said Alan O'Brien.

About half of the riders were in from the Great Northwest. The other half was a welcoming party from southeast Wisconsin.

"Come up, ride up here and ride back with them. 'Why would you come all the way out there?' I said 'well, we want to ride too!' Making them feel welcomed, answering questions they have, kind of being the ambassadors of Milwaukee," said Julie Kaczmarek the "head road captain" of House of Harley's Racine chapter.

Grant Bourne was impressed by the warm reception.

"It was good! It was kind of refreshing to have even more people join the group on the same day," said Bourne.

The San Diego native joined the pack in South Dakota, and logged more than 80,000 miles this year.

Grant Bourne

"I'm riding 100,000 miles to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention," said Bourne.

Bourne would take his cause all the way to Milwaukee.

"I've never been to an anniversary party before. This will be my first time. I get to be in the parade, which is kind of cool," said Bourne.

Once the riders were briefed in Onalaska, they saddled up, with a pretty simple game plan.

"This is my first time, and I heard so much about the other ones, I had to do it," said O'Brien.

They were looking forward to getting to Milwaukee.

"That's when the fun really starts," said Kaczmarek.

The riders from Seattle logged more than 2,000 miles by the time they made it to Milwaukee -- where they were welcomed at Veterans Park.

The Harley-Davidson 115th anniversary celebration culminates Sunday, Sept. 2, when thousands will ride through the streets of Milwaukee during the parade, which starts at 1 p.m.