Thunder Beach Spring Rally back for a 24th year

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 6:14 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The thunder is loud around Panama City Beach but it’s not a storm moving in. It’s the Thunder Beach Spring Rally rolling in for its 24th year.

The event kicked off Wednesday at Frank Brown Park.

“Pretty much a lot of thunder. We’re getting really excited,” Visitor Sherry Bongiovanni said.

Event officials said they’re gearing up to host upwards of 20,000 bikers, and they aren’t the only ones.

Panama City Beach police officers are on high alert.

“A lot of times here at thunder beach we see fatalities on the roadway. But we’re really hoping not to see that this year,” Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, Bay County saw nearly 160 motorcycle crashes in 2021, including five fatal and 28 ending in serious injuries.

“These motorcycles yeah they’re smaller and they’re easier to miss,” Talamantez said. “When you’re changing lanes, or even you’re making a turn or turning into a parking lot, you’re not paying attention, you can easily you know find yourself in a collision.”

Bikers said it’s always better to ride on the side of caution.

“I always look at it this way, if I’m going through an intersection, in my mind I’m thinking the person is going to be pulled out in front of me. Especially in this day and age, everybody is looking at their cellphone,” Visitor Tom Stowers said.

Officers said while distracted driving is a leading cause of these collisions, there’s another issue they’re worried about.

“Never ever drink and ride. Never drink and drive. Alcohol can be a leading cause in these types of events that result in fatalities,” Talamantez said.

Buzzed riding is drunk riding.

“If you are drinking too much, Uber, Lyft, local cab companies. You can pick up your bike tomorrow,” Talamantez said. “It’s not worth taking a chance.”

Chief Talamantez also said he will be having more officers out on the roads the next few days aggressively enforcing traffic laws. Florida Highway Patrol troopers and Bay County Sheriff’s deputies will also be helping keep everyone in check.

Law enforcement officers want to remind Panama City Beach residents to plan ahead, be patient, and be courteous. More than anything, remember to pay attention.

But don’t expect this thunder to quiet down anytime soon.

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