Bikers descend on Sturgis rally with few signs of pandemic
STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — The coronavirus may be changing the world, but there aren't many signs of the pandemic at the massive annual motorcycle rally being held this week at a small city along Interstate 90 in western South Dakota.
The scene Saturday at the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was familiar to veterans of the event, with throngs of maskless bikers packing the streets.
Motorcyclist Kevin Lunsmann, 63, rode more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) to the rally from Big Lake, Minnesota, with several friends. Lunsmann said has attended the Sturgis event every year since 2003 and didn't want to miss the 80th, despite being “somewhat" concerned about the coronavirus.
Still, the crowds of people and rows of bikes surprised him. He said there was no difference from previous years “other than a few people wearing masks.”
Lunsmann said he was avoiding the bars and nightclubs that line the city's main drag this year, but many others were not. They were filled with revelers as the sun set Friday.
“Everybody’s still partying hardy,” Lunsmann said.
Organizers expected the overall crowd to be smaller, perhaps half the size of a normal year, when some half-million people from across the country roar into a town whose population is around 7,000.
The sheer numbers raise the prospect that this year's rally could spread the COVID-19 virus in a state with no special limits on indoor crowds, no mask mandates, and a governor who is eager to welcome visitors and their money.
“Screw COVID,” read the design on one T-shirt being hawked at the event. “I went to Sturgis.”
Bob Graham, 71, was one of the few people wearing masks as he walked along Main Street. “We don’t want the virus. We want to come up here a few more years yet,” Graham said.
Graham made his 36th...