Between local charities, a world record and lots of community spirit, the local motorcycle community has stepped up in Lamar County in 2019.
“Whether here or other places, this community does an outstanding job of giving back,” South Main Iron Director of Operations Kris Estep said. “We have an amazing group in Paris, Texas, and Lamar County.
“All of Northeast Texas has a huge amount of riders, and they love to be there and to be there for the community. I think it’s super awesome our community does that.”
Paris Harley-Davidson, which with the help of philanthropist Adam Sandoval set a new Guinness World Record this year for continuous Harley-Davidson motorcycles on parade, has now released a patch in honor of the event.
“It was kind of a customer demand,” said the dealership’s marketing director, Callie Gifford.
Originally, a patch was not planned for the world record, but after “bringing it back” to the United States, participants began calling the dealership asking for one.
“Biker wear their leathers, and they like to have a patch,” she said.
The new patch has a slightly redesigned logo from the event, the dealership’s name, the number of riders — 3,497, and is sold for $10 each.
While also setting a world record, the event raised money for Motorcycle Missions, which helps veterans and first responders who have post-traumatic stress disorder. They raised $54,000 for the charity, and even hosted a few sessions at the dealership, including a motorcycle build workshop.
“They tore down a motorcycle and completely rebuilt it,” Gifford said.
The dealership also raises money for The Wounded Warrior Project and sponsors many local charities. So far, including school sponsorships, the dealership has donated about $75,000 to different charities and non-profit organizations.
“They are definitely some of the greatest people you will ever meet,” Giffords said about the Lamar County motorcycle community.
And it hasn’t stopped giving back. South Main Iron will be hosting Santa on Dec. 14, and the dealership is helping with Gifts of Love with Meals on Wheels, according to Estep, and music will be provided by Fred Erben. He said they don’t have a tally on how much has been donated to the community.
“It would be really hard to know,” he said. “We’ve done so many of them. Of course, we’re super glad to have helped.”
South Main Iron has helped with the Children’s Advocacy Center, United Way, The Grand Theater Project, Baby Gunn’s Animal Rescue, hosts first responder meals twice a year and more, Estep said.
“Just between having an event here, or contributing to the community, we love donating as well to local charities and organizations,” he said.
This weekend, Paris Harley-Davidson will be having a huge event for Toys for Tots, an organization through the U.S. Marine reservists that donates toys to children at Christmastime, Gifford said. Santa will appear at 11 a.m., and stay for a while for pictures, while the Prairiland High School Beta Club will do face painting for the children and the dealership will host it’s weekly free lunch.
The world record event also showed people outside of Paris how strong the motorcycle community is here. David Canada, who participated in the world record, has added Paris to his 2020 Motorcycle Grand Tour of Texas.
“I opened the registration two days ago, and we even had people from other states sign up,” he said.
The tour will include up to 50 different stops around the state. He was happy to add Paris to the mix, Canada said.
“I had already gone there earlier to see the Eiffel Tower,” he said. “It was really cool.”
And, with the world record, he said he realized just how large the motorcycle community is in East Texas, and contacted both Paris Harley-Davidson and South Main Iron for local sponsorships of the stop.
“The tour I’m doing is a self-guided tour, and to qualify, you have to do at least half of the stops,” Canada said, adding participants needed to take a picture of their bike at the locations as proof.
For more information about the tour, go to www.mcgttx.com. For information about the patch from the world record, call the Harley dealership at 903-784-6392.