Thunder in the Valley has officially roared into Johnstown.
The 15th annual motorcycle rally offers entertainment, food and merchandise that is sure to please the tens of thousands of visitors.
Lisa Rager, executive director of the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said event setup had gone fairly smoothly Wednesday.
“We were working until after midnight, but we are up and running,” she said.
Official Thunder merchandise vendors are offering clothing that displays the rally’s logo.
“We have seven different logos to choose from that show off the city because not everyone wants the same shirt,” said Carlos Soto from his merchandise booth in Central Park.
The popular sellers are T-shirts, and Soto said to buy early before they sell out.
“Our sales are always good,” he said.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, stop by Cob’s Kettle Corn booth in Central Park for a bag of either original or caramel popcorn.
Booth worker Sally Haluska of Johnstown said it’s the business’s first time at Thunder and added that proceeds will go toward breast cancer research.
“We started this business in March and this is our first time out,” she said. “You see a lot done with breast cancer in October, but we wanted to do something now. So hopefully we sell a lot of popcorn so we can give more money.”
Michelle Myers and Chad Altman have been crowned Ms. and Mr. Thunder in Valley.
“This is great for Johnstown and really put us on the map,” said Altman, a Greensburg resident. “If you’re a biker you need to be coming to this every year. It’s almost like Sturgis.”
Myers said she has been attending the event for years and decided to throw her hat into the ring for the title of Ms. Thunder.
“It’s awesome and a good thing to be a part of,” the Johnstown resident said.
The pair will be making the rounds at venues, including a stop at the Inclined Plane and an appearance at Peoples Natural Gas Park.
“This is a good and safe time, so come on out and have a blast because that’s what it is meant to be,” Altman said.
Offering some relief during the hot weather is West End Ambulance service’s misting fan near its booth on Main Street.
Patrick Marshall, a volunteer, said the booth will be open throughout Thunder.
Visitors can also cool down with a $1 bottle of water being sold by Ray Broom in front of the Cambria County Library on Main Street.
“The water is going to a good cause. It’s being sold for the library,” Broom said.
Broom’s wife works at the library, and he volunteered to help during Thunder.
Those seeking local cuisine can stop by the Phoenix Tavern booth at Peoples Natural Gas Park.
Menu items include wings, pulled pork and the popular chicken balls, which consist of beer-battered chicken and stuffing rolled into a baseball-sized ball, deep fried and served on mashed potatoes and gravy.
“We’ve been coming to Thunder for four years and moved this year from Main Street into the park, which is awesome, and hopefully we’ll get more foot traffic,” said Jeremy Kohan, who runs concessions and catering. “We like to be here to get our name out so people can see what is here locally.”
Rager added that, after
15 years, word of the rally and its quality has spread.
“People want to be a part of it,” she said. “If it’s your first time coming, we hope you’ll see its value and you’ll come back to the area to visit, and not just for Thunder but for the other things we have to offer.”
The event wraps up Sunday.