Cripple Creek officials, business operators and civic leaders reported that despite previous images regarding one of the most notorious biker clubs in the nation, members of the Hells Angels received A-plus reviews for their behavior during their annual national run last week in the gaming community.
The rally occurred between July 25 and July 29 and served as a mini-vacation retreat and meeting time for members of the Hells Angels, prior to a huge biker gathering in Sturgis, South Dakota.
Some local business folks, in fact, would love for the club to return.
Members of the club were reportedly quite friendly towards locals and weren’t afraid to spend money in the community and mingle with patrons and area residents.
Lodging rooms were booked in the middle of the week, an uncommon scenario for Cripple Creek. .
On the downside, the rally produced a slight negative impact for casinos and some retail shops, with a decline in their regular customers. Due to earlier reports of the Hells Angels event, many regular patrons opted to stay home for the week. .Also, the run generated a huge law enforcement presence in the area, with a hefty assortment of law enforcement vehicles spotted along the main highways. Earlier reports indicated that more than 50 officers from a slew of agencies manned the town during the run. “I think we had more law enforcement personnel than members of the Hells Angels,” quipped one city employee..
Overall, the run didn’t generate nearly as many participants as projected. Business representatives reported that the rally didn’t amount to a big deal for the community, with considerably less participants than the 300 or so projected in earlier reports. “It is really a non-issue,” said local business owner Tim Braun.
Cripple Creek Police Chief Mike Rulo reported no major problems with the Hells Angels rally.. “We had a few verbal warnings for minor issues related to traffic,” said Rulo, according to a television report on KRDO. “And really, that’s about it.”
Rulo and other city officials stated they didn’t have many initial concerns, after researching the club’s previous national runs, which occurred in such locales as Gunnison, Colorado, Cody, Wyoming and in Montana. Last year’s rally occurred in Clarksburg, Virginia, a community of only 1,100 people.
Nevertheless, Rulo said the Cripple Creek Police Department was prepared for the Hells Angels gathering and were treating it like another huge event. They enlisted the help of other agencies. .
City officials tried to keep a low-key profile towards the Angels’ gathering, which generated hardly any pre-media exposure. City Administrator Ray DuBois said he was afraid that by publicizing the run, it could scare away potential visitors. However, they couldn’t keep a lid on rumors regarding the event, with stories running rampant of the club’s potential activities in the Creek.
And interest was strong regarding the club’s activities, with more than 50 people watching recreational softball games played by club members at a public baseball diamond. Local business operators reported that club members were extremely courteous and enjoyed interacting with patrons.
Area biker experts say the club has definitely improved its image since the 1960s, when it gained quite a reputation for its involvement with the counter-culture movement and in violent skirmishes with hippies, peace protesters and law enforcement authorities. Plus, many of its renowned trouble-makers are no longer associated with the club, or have gotten much older.
Still, the Department of Justice still regards the Hells Angels as an organized crime syndicate, contending the organization is involved with drugs, prostitution, domestic violence and intimidation. But club members say this perception is false, and they are just motorcycle enthusiasts, who enjoy mostly getting together and organizing charity events, various rides and toys for tots drives. The Hells Angels currently has charters throughout the United States on every continent, except for Antarctica.