The Harley-Davidson brand has always garnered a unique camaraderie among their owners and a fierce loyalty. Once you go H-D, you never ride another bike again. That combination of friendship and bravado is what has kept Phil Peterson’s Key West Poker Run an annual event for the last 43 years. This year’s Key’s Bike Week culminates with the hosting of the popular 2015 Key West Poker Run Sept. 15-18..
Back in the day, late summer was a slow time for the Florida Keys. Event originator, Phil Peterson birthed the idea of drumming up business for not only his own Harley-Davidson dealership, but for struggling hotels and restaurants all along the Keys. Forty six local bike riders began the trek from Peterson’s dealership in Miami to Key West, stopping at businesses along the way, and ending with party time in Key West.
As the popularity of the yearly event grew, so did the number of participants, now up to 10 – 15K riders last count. Imagine the ribbon of road and bridges lined with the bold and beautiful machines, thundering in the sunshine and ocean breezes. A sight to behold! Business is booming thanks to the vision and resolve of Peterson and now in the second generation, son Drew.
It’s not only about the bikes. As riders make their way down the keys, they stop at designated businesses and draw a card. At the end of the journey, the final card is drawn. Who will finish the ride with the best Poker hand, a ticket to play at the Texas Hold Em Grand Finale and a chance to win the sought after prize? Someone will be riding on a new Harley by week’s end. Will it be you?
Second only to the solidarity of Harley-Davidson owners is their generosity. This popular event not only brings business to the Keys, but also funds local charities. Monies collected for parking and contest fees are put back into the community that has hosted the participants for so many years.
A street party on Duval features rows of bikes and riders outfitted in their finest biker garb. There will be food to sample, drinks flowing, vendors offering the latest in bike-wear and bike accessories, games to play and contests to compete for trophies and bragging rights. Participating bars sponsor contests and events all weekend long.
See all the events here http://www.petersonsharley.com
If you have a bike or just wish you did, you’re welcome to enjoy the spectacle. From the initial ride into town, the card games, the contests, to the blessings of the bikes, it’s all for a good cause and a good time. VROOM VROOM!