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June 30, 2014

Thunder quiet, city authorities say

JOHNSTOWN — It was kind of a quiet Thunder in the Valley that rolled into the region this year.

According to Johnstown police Capt. Andy Frear, there were no Thunder-related arrests made in the city during the annual motorcycle rally that took place from Thursday through Sunday.

Johnstown Fire Department was needed only for a few minor traffic accidents. So, except for the loud rumble of Harley-Davidsons and some rock ‘n’ roll music, it was peaceful in the downtown area.

“To have zero, that’s pretty good,” Frear said.

Frear attributed the lack of trouble to the police department’s strong presence. Plus, with Thunder being in its 17th year, many veteran rally-goers are familiar with rules regarding driving, parking, drinking and noise.

“People have an understanding of what they can and can’t do,” Frear said.

“We usually don’t have very many arrests.”

Police officers and firefighters must take care of their usual business throughout the four days, which, this year included rescuing individuals from the Inclined Plane when the cars stalled a few feet away from the platforms on Saturday afternoon.

“Not only do we have to deal with Thunder, but we still have a city to protect,” said fire Chief Anthony Kovacic.

Lisa Rager, executive director of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organizes the event, was not aware of any major incidents, either.

“It was a successful rally,” said Rager.

“All went well.”

The visitors’ bureau, along with local Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education chapters, city officials and the Thunder task force, will evaluate the event over the upcoming weeks.

“We get feedback, such as letters and emails, complimenting us,” Rager said.

“And we also get constructive criticism, which is always helpful.”

In 2013, the visitors’ bureau lost about $30,000 during Thunder, mostly due to increased expenses. The bureau tried to improve its bottom line by reducing the amount of parking spaces it reserved from the city, holding 50/50 drawings, hosting a Thunder kickoff party on May 24 and selling front-stage premier viewing passes to this year’s headline concert by classic rock band Foghat on Friday.

No final financial or attendance figures will be available until pertinent information is analyzed by the bureau.

The Tribune-Democrat’s Terry Altemus contributed to this report.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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