For the third time in a decade, the city is playing host to the 34th annual Wing Ding, the national gathering of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA).
For Connie and Troy Hardway, Atwater, Ohio, it is their first visit to Fort Wayne and to a Wing Ding.
Wing Dings previously had been held here in 2002 and 2005. They bought their 1995 vintage three-wheeler bike just a year ago. The hot weather didn't hold them back from coming but Connie Hardway said it gets pretty hot out there on the open highway. Down the aisle from them a man shouted he had come the farthest, all the way from San Diego, CA, driving 500 hundred miles a day to make it by Tuesday.
The Memorial Coliseum, where 7,500 to 8,000 participants are expected to gather over the next few days, had a least several hundred bikes in their parking lot by late Tuesday afternoon. There was a lot of coming and going as people checked in and then headed off to their hotels or restaurants. The pavement in the parking lot was radiating heat, and most people didn't seem to be sticking around to long outside. A handful of the hearty few were waiting in the shade of the fence for lines to painted on the parking lot for a competition Wednesday morning. They had been hoping to get in some practice.
During the holiday week, the GWRRA and its founders will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the organization with numerous community events, including a welcome party in Grabill, a rooftop and fireworks anniversary celebration and light parade at IPFW and a grand parade. Other activities include poker rides throughout northeast Indiana, a TinCaps game night at Parkview Field, and bus tours to Auburn, DeKalb County and DeBrand Fine Chocolates.