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Thunder Nites benefits Brendan O’Brien family, local economy

Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 11:27 a.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, May 18, 2013 1:29 p.m. CST
(Photo courtesy of Dave Darby)
Rock band Abby Normal took the stage during the first Thunder Nites in Newton bike night of the summer on Friday, May 10. The event attracted from 600 to 700 bikers and many more for the night's festivities, said Thunder NItes committe member Libbie Marshall.

A week after an onsalught of motorcycles rolled into Newton for the first Thunder Nites event of the summer, the economic impact to both Newton and those close to the Thunder Nites organization is clear.

Thunder Nites in Newton committee member Libbie Marshall explained just how immensely one portion of the event impacted a local family.

“We pulled out all the stops to hold the 50/50 raffle for the O’Brien family,” Marshall said. “It raised about $2,300 for Bob O’Brien to help with the funeral costs for his son ... as soon as he saw how much money it was, he said, ‘I’m going to buy a headstone.’”

O’Brien’s son, Brendan, died April 23 following a car-pedestrian accident. The O’Briens were great supporters of Thunder Nites; recently, a photo posted on Thunder Nites’ Facebook page shows Brendan sporting a Thunder Nites 2012 T-shirt.

Despite colder-than-normal temperatures, Marshall was pleased with the turnout.

“It was a great success,” she said. “It was a bit chilly that night, but we had from 600 to 700 bikes come out, which is great for a chilly night. Everyone loved the band (Abby Normal), and they are all really excited to see Insane Jane play next month.”

Additionally, Newton Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Linda Bacon estimated the economic impact of the bikers’ stay in Newton at $85,000.

Thunder Nites will host four more events on the courthouse square this summer, taking place the second Friday of each month. Next month’s Thunder Nites event will run from 6 to 10 p.m. June 14.