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Thunder Beach wraps up in Panama City Beach

Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 9:21 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - After facing one cancellation in the spring, and a near-miss this fall, the Thunder Beach rally that typically takes six months to organize was put together in two weeks.

“I think it was highly successful, given we didn’t know if we’d have a rally at all,” said Thunder Beach Productions President Joe Biggs. “It was a modified event, but I think all things considered it went extremely well.”

Event organizers said bikers were coming to Panama City Beach even if the fall event was canceled.

“We found out from the lodging folks that there weren’t a lot of cancellations for the rally, whether we officially had a rally or not,” said Biggs.

Local restaurants said they expected more of a turnout, but were just happy to see people here.

“It actually was good it stayed steady the whole time,” said Sandbar Seafood & BBQ Joint General Manager Gerald Yarbaough. “We expected to be more busy, but it wasn’t a disappointment.”

Bikers said they were glad to be surrounded by other bikers again since COVID-19 canceled other events of the same kind.

“You meet people that you haven’t seen in awhile, that’s been fun, we’ve run into several people,” said some Thunder Beach participants.

“It’s great, we love it here,” said another Thunder Beach participant Joe Smalley. “It’s always fun, it’s just the right distance from home. It makes it a nice ride.”

Restaurant staff and bikers agreed participants followed all guidelines put in place by Thunder Beach organizers.

“Everybody pretty much social distances automatically now, it’s like a thing they just do now,” said Shuckums Oyster Pub Kitchen Manager Keith Thomas. “It’s a part of life now.”

“You know we try to sit a little further away, try to do things like that,” said Thunder Beach participants.

“I’m not really worried when I’m out riding a bike, because you are social distanced on a bike that’s no problem,” said Smalley.

Now Thunder Beach organizers are looking forward to the spring rally, hoping circumstances are better this time around.

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