TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Over a dozen bikers and community dignitaries came together in downtown Tampa Wednesday to kick off the annual United Bikerz Jamboree event returning in July 2021.
"Bikers get a bad reputation sometimes throughout the community as gang members and all these erotic people. We're not. You've got business men, lawyers, doctors," explained Chris 'Top' Hill who serves as Chairperson for United Bikerz Jamboree.
Organizers say the objective of the United Bikerz Jamboree is to build community pride and identity and to provide an annual event that offers fun activities and educational opportunities for families and people of all ages.
Santiago Corrada, CEO of Visit Tampa Bay noted, "Last year, we hosted this event at Raymond James Stadium in the heart of the city. We saw economic boosts of the hotels, in and around that area."
In 2020, the event brought the county's hotel occupancy to the highest it had been since the start of the pandemic. This time, the event is set for the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds and is slated to bring in an estimated $8 million in local economic profit to Tampa Bay, money that is much needed since the pandemic wreaked havoc on the local tourism economy. "We want to do our part to make sure we spread that economic wealth," said Corrada.
"We had to balance those responses to COVID-19 with keeping our community afloat economically and since that time, we have shown how, here in the Tampa Bay area, we can have safe events," added Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Anthony Smith has been with the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club since 2011. "But I've been riding since I was about 14, 15 years old," said Smith. "When I was stationed up in North Carolina, some of the guys talked to me, they'd seen I had a motorcycle and they asked me to join the organization. I'll tell you, it's an experience. We have been all over the world." The club has 122 chapters nationwide. "Korea, Hawaii, 8 chapters here in the state of Florida," he said.
Inheriting the name from the 1866 Buffalo Soldiers, Smith says it's about more than being out on the road for them. "Turkey drives, we do toy drives. Our mission is about helping out the community." And while every year here is a new adventure for him, the name bared upon his biker vest, and the story that comes with it, is history. "It's the comradery, the brotherhood."
The event will be held July 1 – 4, 2021 and admission will be $40 per person.
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