SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
After a slow start in Daytona Beach’s Black community, Bike Week 2016 picked up during the final weekend of the event.
Historically, the final weekend has been a huge event in the Black community and has unofficially being named “Black Bike Week” by locals.
People of all ages, various ethnicities came out and enjoyed the festivities in the heart of Daytona’s Black community. Bike Week was March 4-13.
No problems at park
Recently, Joe Harris Park, also known as Harlem Park, has been gated and locked. The park is a magnet for Black motorcyclists when Bike Week rolls around in March.
Due to its location near Mary Mc-Leod Bethune Boulevard, thousands of bikers and locals congregate there to relax, listen to music, and patronize food and merchandise vendors.
Although a popular hangout and street basketball venue, there have been shootings and drug activity. On New Year’s Eve, two people were shot to death outside of the Biarritz Club, which is just yards from the park. After those killings, a fence was erected around the city park.
The park was open for motorcyclists during the final weekend of Bike Week.
“We’ve had no problems accessing the park. Bike Week has been good as usual,” responded biker Joe James of St. Augustine.
“There has been no problems. It’s crowded and congested. It could always be better,” echoed biker Byron Hayes of Tallahassee.
Vendors were glad to see larger crowds for the final weekend but some complained about the fee charged to participate.
“This is my first time here. It’s interesting. This weekend has been good. It started slow but picked up. Many don’t buy items until the end of the event,” Yvonne Washington of Oklahoma told the Daytona Times. She sold T-shirts.
Avery Upshaw of Norfolk, Va., sold frozen beverages.
“It is my first time here. Things have been pretty good. Traffic has been flowing and people are coming,’’ Upshaw said.
But vendors had mixed reviews about their vendor fees.
Oliver Sam of Michigan is a 10-year veteran vendor of Bike Week. He sold oils, incense and other items.
“The crowd is OK, but it’s slow. They do charge us too much to work this event. I have to go and try to make some money,” he remarked.
‘They overcharge us’
Angela King of Fort Lauderdale is a Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) grad. In the past, she has worked B-CU’s Homecomings with other vendors. This year she was an independent food vendor.
“Traffic needs to be more organized. People parked in areas that were designated for vendors to access our lots. I’m not coming back. They overcharge us,” King said.
“They charge us for a 10-day event when it is really only three days in this part of town. We pay a $300 fee plus $600 to $1,000 for a spot. We have to make money. Many of us do this for a living. We also must buy supplies and merchandise,” she added.
Washington differed, “I don’t think that the fees are too bad. I’ve paid higher at other events in other cities.”