Hats off to Harley’s party!

    If you had any doubt why recent descriptions of Milwaukee include the words "sexy" and "cool," all you had to do was hang around Milwaukee last weekend.

    No one knows how to throw a party better then Harley-Davidson and no one serves as better hosts then the people of Milwaukee. There are events and then there are the Harley-Davidson anniversary celebrations. And the 105th Anniversary celebration proved that the company and the celebration just get better with age.

    Thank you Harley-Davidson Motor Co. for your commitment to Milwaukee, for being the tremendous corporate citizen you are, for the great product you have created and for going way beyond the norm in helping make Milwaukee a pretty cool place.

    To put on an event of this enormity, takes commitment, organization, time, resources, passion, and, of course, a one-of-a-kind product. Harley-Davidson accomplished all of this and more. That "more" can be simply described as the Harley-Davidson Museum.  The museum pays tribute to this iconic brand and let’s people celebrate and experience Harley-Davidson 365 days a year. It’s an attraction that will bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors (and their dollars) for years to come.

    The short-term benefits of the event are apparent – well over 40,000 hotel room nights consumed and business swelling at area restaurants and attractions. When you factor all of this in and the approximately 125,000 to 150,000 visitors that participated in the event, we estimate that some $40 million was poured into the local economy.

    The bikers may have left, but their impact will be felt long-term. We now have tens of thousands of new goodwill ambassadors singing our praises with the potential for them to return as visitors, bring business to the city or perhaps even relocate as new residents.

    And to the people of Milwaukee, the great law enforcement personnel that supported this event and our hospitality and tourism industry, Visit Milwaukee extends a huge thank you as well. You captured the spirit of hospitality for the 105th like you have done for the past anniversaries.

    To see those Harley riders in the parade down Wisconsin Avenue with their flags waving from so many different countries, all yelling "thank you Milwaukee," is truly a tribute to the warmth of our people. This hospitality is also an attribute that differentiates us from all other communities.

    Congratulations to Harley-Davidson for helping us put Milwaukee on the map and making us just a little bit cooler and sexier!

    Doug Neilson is president and chief executive officer of Visit Milwaukee.

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