32. A Once Innocent Motorcycle Rally Descends Into Drunken Anarchy and Chaos
Hollister’s 1947 Gypsy Tour kicked off on July 3rd, and the small town was instantly flooded with about 4000 bikers from across America. The new arrivals instantly doubled Hollister’s population. Never in the pre-war rallies had so many people participated, and Hollister was unprepared for the flood of guests. They included groups with colorful – and to innocent 1940s sensibilities, menacing – names such as The Boozefighters, the Market Street Commandos, and the Pissed Off Bastards of Bloomington.
At first, Hollister’s bars welcomed the bikers and the business boom they brought with them. Soon, however, drunk motorcyclists were racing down the streets, while bar-wrecking brawls erupted in the drinking establishments. Because Hollister had not expected so many visitors, a housing problem developed. By July 4th, bikers were sleeping on sidewalks, haystacks, and on people’s lawns. Hollister’s seven-man police force was overwhelmed. They tried to end the chaos with the threats of tear gas, and by arresting as many drunks as they could. Their efforts proved fruitless, and the chaos only ended when the Gypsy Tour ended, and the bikers headed back home.