A year after the coronavirus pandemic impacted the Laconia Motorcycle Week, the annual New Hampshire event is getting back up to full speed.
Hundreds of thousands of people are descending on the city in the Lakes Region this week for what's considered the world's oldest motorcycle rally.
There was a scaled-back version last year, but this year, the event is back in all its glory.
"The weather is wonderful, and I'm having a great time," said Lenny Vento of New Rochelle, New York.
"You always meet new people here, and you see old friends here, too," said Leonard Acompora, who rode up from Stamford, Connecticut.
It's the 98th Laconia Motorcycle Week, and after a quiet 2020, riders say the sights and sounds are even sweeter.
"Oh yeah, it's freedom," said Patty Corrow of Claremont, New Hampshire.
This summer, without COVID-19 restrictions, the city is expecting the typical influx of about 200,000 visitors throughout the week.
"It's great not to see a ghost town," said Kerri Copeland, who manages the Half Moon Gift Shop on the strip.
"I had my COVID shots, I'm a disabled veteran, and I'm just enjoying life," said Wally Sabre of Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
The rally dates back to 1916. Over the decades, it's become a more family-friendly event.
"There was one motorcycle, and it had a sloth on the back, and it was really cool," said 11-year-old Ava Wade of North Reading, Massachusetts.
She arrived in Laconia Thursday on the back of her Papa's bike.
"For the first time, she's seeing all this," said Stephen Kelly of Canterbury, New Hampshire. "She's been stuck in the house for a year, if not more, and we're getting her out and showing her the sights."
And like most visitors, Wade says it's an experience she'll remember for a long time.
"Forever, forever," she said.
"Oh, it's awesome, it brings a tear to my eyes," Kelly said. "Creating memories."
Believe it or not, bike week regulars say it was a relatively quiet Thursday at the Wiers. They say things will pick up Friday, just in time for Father's Day weekend.