History and Highlights of the Atlanta Chapter
The Atlanta Chapter started with this simple invitation, which was sent to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta’s mailing list and has evolved to the outstanding chapter it is today.
Dear H.O.G. Member:
Harley-Davidson of Atlanta will sponsor the Atlanta Chapter of the Harley Owners Group. The purpose of the local chapter is to develop motorcycling activities for H.O.G. members by creating exceptional chapter activities and encouraging participation in existing events. The Harley Owners Group local chapter is a family-oriented organization, which should appeal to all H.O.G. members. If you are interested in participating in the Atlanta Chapter, please return the enclosed application to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta directly or better yet, attend a meeting to be help Thursday, September 19, 1985, at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta, 7:00 P.M. Don’t be left out…come and help us organize the Atlanta Chapter of the Harley Owners Group.
BK Ellis started the Atlanta Chapter in 1985 after a lot of arm-twisting from Eddie Houghton. The first chapter meeting was held Thursday, October 17, 1985, 7:00 P.M. at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta 2156 Sylvan Road, East Point, GA. The first ride was to the Harley-Davidson Test Facility Open House at the Talladega Speedway on October 19, 1985, more than 40 motorcycles made the trip. Back in 1985 to 1990, the Atlanta Chapter was the first and only H.O.G. Chapter in the Atlanta area, so we had excellent participation and support from the Harley owners around town. Atlanta Chapter, HOG’s Charter Membership was open from September 19 to November 21, 1985. The Chapter Membership closed with 123 charter members. Some of these members are still-member of the Atlanta Chapter today. In January 1988, we named our newsletter HOGWASH. Before then we were just calling it NEWSLETTER.
Our first Christmas Party was Sunday, December 15, 1985 at the East Point Moose Lodge, who graciously offered their facility at no charge. There was a charge of $10 per person, covering food, soft drinks and a small band. Atlanta Chapter’s First Annual New Year’s Day Good Luck Ride was Wednesday, January 1, 1986. In March 1986 Weekly Impromptu Rides were started. We would meet at 9:30 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday at Harley-Davidson of Atlanta for impromptu rides. These rides were not to take place of a scheduled chapter ride.
In April of 1987, the Atlanta Chapter started what was called “Willie G. Ride” for members only. We would take five overnight rides to the five states bordering Georgia: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. A ticket was given to each participating member in a ride: one ride = one ticket, two rides = two tickets, three rides = three tickets, four rides = four tickets and five rides = five tickets, a maximum of 15 tickets. The winner would receive two Willie G. leather jackets. The drawing would be held at our anniversary party in September. A $5 cost was charged to defray the cost of the jackets.
- The first ride was to Panama City Beach, Florida, April 24 -26, 1987. We booked rooms at a local motel at the cost of $34 per night with four to a room. Can you imagine the cost?
- The second ride was to the Birmingham Turf Club, Birmingham, Alabama, May 30-31, 1987.
- The third ride was to Gatlinburg, Tennessee on June 27-28 1987.
- The fourth ride was to Asheville, North Carolina on July 18-19, 1987. We had 35 members and 28 motorcycles participating in the ride.
- The fifth ride for the year was to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on August 7-9, 1987.
With all this said, the drawing was held at our Second Anniversary Party at John Carroll’s hanger in Fayetteville from more than 300 tickets. The winner was Barry Lambert. Barry completed four out of the five rides.
Brain Tumor Ride for Kids
The Atlanta Chapter, H.O.G. was the club that contributed the most money to the Brain Tumor Foundation this year. We raised more than $17,000! After that, the Atlanta Chapter grew in importance as one the top fund raising motorcycle clubs.
Comedian Jay Leno and Atlanta Falcon coach, Jerry Glanville, were there and became members of the Atlanta Chapter. We owe this distinction to our own TV star (11 Alive Weatherman) Johnny Beckman, who enlisted Jay to help promote the Ride for Kids this year. In 1991, for the third year in a row, the Atlanta Chapter was the number one fund-raising club for the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children. The Atlanta Chapter donated a total of $22,000 to the Brain Tumor Foundation Ride for Kids. We were not only NUMBER ONE, but surpassed the Second Place winner—Athens Chapter, H.O.G.—by $17,400.
There were approximately 1500 motorcycles on the ride and raised a total of $180,000. Johnny Beckman was astounded at our total contribution and asked for it to be rechecked and still could not believe the total. He thanked the Atlanta Chapter for our super effort on the 5:30 and 6:00 P.M. 11 Alive News.
Still Going Strong
Today, the chapter is still as strong and vibrant as ever. We continue to support charities like Bikers Battling Breast Cancer and Southeastern Guide Dogs and we always Ride and Have Fun. Our Lady’s of Harley membership has grown considerably over the years and many of our officers have been heavily involved in higher level activities like the State HOG Rally planning committee. Many of our members have attended HOG Officer Training (HOT) all over the country and we continue to have a strong presence at the state and regional levels. We invite you to ride along with us as we add new adventures to the history for our dynamic chapter!