Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is underway

STURGIS, S.D.(KBHB) – The 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is now officially underway as the opening ceremony was held Friday.

The World Famous Budweiser Clydesdales were part of the opening ceremony as they drew a large crowd as they paraded down Main Street and to Rally Point, where rally-goers were allowed to take pictures with them.

Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen says Rally Point is celebrating its sixth anniversary and it’s been a lot of hard work in the making.

Carstensen says new for the rally – open container on Main Street.

The council approved open container earlier this year for the rally. They’re hoping to raise money for Sturgis Rally Charities through the $10 cup that rally patrons buy. Those cups are the only open containers allowed on Main Street.

Also speaking today was this year’s Grand Marshall, Jody Perewitz.

Perewitz says she was excited to be in Sturgis.

Perewitz has become one of the most recognizable women in the motorcycle industry today.

From Massachusetts, she paved her own way into history by becoming the first woman to ever jockey an American V-Twin powered motorcycle into the record books at well over 200 mph. Perewitz now holds 16 land speed records, one of which is a world record.

With today being the official start of the Rally, the South Dakota Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will begin their annual Rally Accident reporting.

It has already been a busy week, with several motorcycle-related accidents around the Black Hills that won’t count on the official rally report.

Those accident keep the Sturgis Ambulance crew hopping.

Shawn Fischer, the Sturgis Ambulance Director and a Critical Care Paramedic says that things began to get busy starting last Monday, when the team ran 19 calls instead of the usual six or seven.

She says during the 2 weeks of the Rally, they tend to respond to twice as many calls as they would over the span of a normal month. She says drugs play a big role in what they’re responding to.

Regardless of the additional call volume, she says that her team doesn’t receive any additional help…

Fischer says that the training the team goes through on a yearly basis is extraordinary, preparing them for when the time comes for the Rally.

Saturday at the Rally, the annual Mayor’s Ride will leave from the parking lot behind the Sturgis Community Center at 9:00 a.m. The group will ride to Mt. Rushmore and conclude at Custer State Park with lunch.

The Mayor’s Pub Crawl also takes place Saturday, and begins at 7:00 p.m. at Rally Point.

The 81st Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally runs through August 14th.