Roger Sims, Journal Staff
Second annual 'Thunder' rally draws thousands to Pleasanton
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Pleasanton's Main Street was filled with shoppers wearing everything from black leather to flip-flops on Saturday during the Thunder on the Street motorcycle rally. (Photos by Roger Sims, Linn County Journal)
PLEASANTON – The story about the second running of Thunder on the Street in Pleasanton on Saturday, June 4, is that, for the second year in Pleasanton, it went very smoothly.
Although city officials reported a couple of minor injuries and some complaints about long lines for a couple of favorite food trucks, the motorcycle rally sponsored by the Kansas Chapter of the Soldiers for Jesus Motorcycle Club was a day full of entertainment, music, ogling tricked-out bikes, fellowship and seeing old friends or making new ones.
The day started with a rally from Living Proof Church in Paola to downtown Pleasanton. While last year’s Thunder had dozens of motorcyclists, this year as they rode into Pleasanton, the line was much longer. City officials estimated that as many as 5,000 people – including bikers and area residents who came out to see what it was all about – attended the event.
Pleasanton Mayor Mike Frisbie, right, welcomes Frank "Pancho' Nicholson, president of the Kansas Chapter of the Soldiers for Jesus Motorcycle Club to Pleasanton.
Dana DeLynn with the classic rock and country band Cheap Trick$ channels Janis Joplin as she belts out "Me and Bobbie McGee" in the opening set.
Frank “Pancho” Nicholson opened the celebration by thanking city officials for again being so helpful in helping the event happen. He noted that several city employees – including city officials, public works and police volunteers – worked alongside Soldiers for Jesus members to make the event happen.
After a few words by Mayor Mike Frisbie, City Administrator Teresa Whitaker noted that Pleasanton hoped to continue to be the location of the event for next year, the next and the next.
After the formalities and speeches were out of the way, Cheap Thrill$, a classic rock and country band from Peculiar, Mo., started their set as the crowd moved into the vendor kiosk area on Main Street. They were the first of three bands that would play during the day.
More than 50 vendors, motorcycle clubs and community businesses sold everything from black leather riding gear to snow cones to cold drinks and even motorcycle parts and used bikes. A few of the tents, keeping in line with the Christian-based sponsor of the event, offered spiritual information and even counseling.
Pleasanton resident Jana Shrum, center, gets caught up in the born-to-be-wild moment as she sits in the saddle of a Harley owned by Jeff Stevens, left. The moment is captured by Kim McCullough.
Jimmie and Linda Martin of Pleasanton, at right, inspect the custom bikes entered in the show in Carpenters Ol' Iron museum.
Although brief afternoon showers dampened the celebration temporarily, the event went as planned.
In addition to demonstrations by stunt riders, this year’s Thunder included the Wall of Death, a cylindrical silo where riders defied gravity by riding motorcycles sideways around the inside of the structure. As expected, it was a crowd favorite.
In a separate interview, Whitaker said that while Pleasanton has several community events, Thunder on the Street was different. She said it drew not only people from the Pleasanton area to the city, it also drew people from across Linn County and the region.
Frank Pedersen, owner of Frankenstein Trikes of Pleasanton, a major sponsor of the event, stands beside an example of the budget build contest. Although there were no entries this year, he wanted to show what customization could be done in the home garage on a budget.
The Valley Rangers 4-H Club ran a cold drinks and wrist-bands concession at the event. The sales staff of Freely, from left, Lillian, Olive, Lucinae and Willow did brisk business as the day got warmer.
Reading from a prepared statement at the city council meeting on Monday, June 6, Mayor Frisbie thanked Whitaker and other city staff for making an extra effort to make sure the event went off smoothly.
“This motorcycle rally is really not a city event, but rather a motorcycle event and I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” the mayor said, “however, it’s good to see it being embraced by many of our town’s people and merchants. I’m looking forward to the third annual Thunder on the Street.”
Councilman Joe Whitaker said that he heard rumors that there had been trouble at the rally, and wanted to assure people that was not the case.
Sylvia Kehoe, right, gets a hug from fellow Paola resident Amanda Clark. Both of the women are connected to Living Proof Church. Clark roamed the crowd at midday, fulfilling her promise of free hugs for bikers and others.
The Soldiers for Jesus kiosk was a focal point on Main Street.