The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 19, 2013

See Thunder as a positive | It's a yearly economic shot in arm for area

The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Outrageous bikes, delicious food and hard-rockin’ music ... or traffic jams, overpriced fares and a cacophony of noise – Thunder in the Valley means different things to different people.

Some can’t wait for an estimated 200,000 bikers to descend on downtown Johnstown while others can’t wait for them to leave.

We understand the feelings on both sides of the fence.

But if you’re one of the ones who is less than excited about the four-day extravaganza that begins on Thursday, we ask you to think about the positives that Thunder in the Valley brings to our region:

-- Out-of-town visitors make overnight plans, which is good news for hotels, motels and campgrounds in our area.

-- Almost all of the Thundergoers will be looking for something to eat and drink during their time here, which is a blessing for restaurants, bars and other local establishments, such as nonprofit groups, that sell food and beverages throughout the week.

-- Putting on such an enormous event takes plenty of local help, from those who handle the advertising and printing for Thunder to the companies that provide portable toilets and those that clean up after the last motorcyclist rides out of town.

“Thunder in the Valley is tremendous to me,” said Scott McLachlan, owner of Scott’s by Dam restaurant on Market Street. “It helps me expand my business.”

And it’s not just Johnstown that benefits from the huge success that Thunder in the Valley has become. Events – some tied directly to Thunder in the Valley and some not – stretch across the region, with communities such as Ebensburg, Windber and Somerset benefitting from the influx of tourists.

So even if your business isn’t seeing the direct benefits of the motorcycle rally, there’s a good chance that your community and many of those that you interact with on a daily basis are.

That’s the way that David Horten, who owns Nykos restaurant on Scalp Avenue in Richland Township sees it.

“I don’t think it has a major, major impact on our business. We may see some trickle effect,” Horten told our Randy Griffith. “I like to see the community do well. It’s for this area.”

It certainly is good for the area. Thunder in the Valley brings millions of dollars in visitor spending, but it does more than provide a once-a-year economic boost.

Thousands of visitors get to see what Johnstown and the Laurel Highlands have to offer, from our great recreational activities to our historic sites to our warm and friendly people.

So, instead of looking at the next few days as an inconvenience, view it as an opportunity for our region to put its best foot forward. Let’s show our visitors how wonderful it is here and why they should consider returning on a regular basis.

And, if you’ve never done so before, get out and take part in some of the festivities. It could very well change your mind about Thunder in the Valley.

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