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Thunder By the Bay revs up for 15th year

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Belt the chorus to the Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See” as “Thunder by the Bay” rips into downtown Sarasota for the 15th year.

The fundraising motorcycle festival is set to grace venues throughout Sarasota from Thurs. Jan. 3 to Sun. Jan. 6, and the headlining southern rockers are only part of the draw.

“This is a wonderful, fun event that brings people of all walks of life to Sarasota. This is actually the first year we’ve had a national headliner like this, which is a big deal for us,” says Lucy Nicandri, vice president of Suncoast Charities for Children and the festival’s director. “It’s a great event for families, music fans, and of course, bikers. And the weather is just perfect for it.”

A total of 30,000 spectators attend annually, bringing a $6.4-million economic impact (including 2,200 booked room nights) to the city. More than $1-million has been raised for charity since the event’s infancy, and proceeds benefit Suncoast Charities for Children, an organization that has assisted children and families with special needs since 1985.

The extravaganza launches on Thursday with a “Kick Start Party” from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Michael’s on East, with wines, whiskeys, choice cigars, an open bar and food stations ($100 per person).

From 6:30 p.m. to midnight Friday is the “Born To Be Wild” kick-off party at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota with casino-style gaming, live entertainment by Shaman, a silent auction and a Harley Davidson fashion show ($15 per person).

There will be a free, al fresco party from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday along Main Street in downtown Sarasota with 80 vendors, a new 15-class “Light Up The Night” LED bike show (on South Palm Avenue), and a dozen bands on the Jagermeister and Budweiser stages.

The entertainment lineup includes: Lauren Mitchell, Damon Fowler, Kettle of Fish, Category Three, Highway to Hell, MarcAnthony Roman, Matthew Facciolla Band, the Toler Tucci Band and Come Back Alice. The Marshall Tucker Band goes on at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Also on Sunday is the “Cruise for Cash” scenic beach ride for motorcyclists, with $4,000 in cash prizes (registration is from 9 to 11 a.m. at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill).

Rev up, cruisers.

The 15th Annual “Thunder by the Bay” event will be held at various times and locations from Jan. 3-6. 371-8820, Ext. 1800; thunderbythebay.org.

Last modified: January 3, 2013
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