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Things went right for Thunder Nites

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013 12:10 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, July 15, 2013 12:23 p.m. CST
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
The July Thunder Nites in Newton featured the biggest crowd the event has had this year. The event finally caught a break in the weather and it made all the difference.
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
This bike is one of the two that Bev and Gene West brought with them to the event. The Wests' are the owners of Bertha the biker dog, the official mascot of Thunder Nites.
(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
Motorcycles were everywhere on the square on Friday. The styles ranged from traditional Harley Davidson's to futuristic looking three-wheelers to Bertha the Thunder Nites mascot personal sidecar.

Thunder Nites in Newton just couldn’t catch a break. In May, businesses and attendees battled cooler than expected temperatures, and in June the rain just wouldn’t stop. However, Friday’s weather for the July installment of the summertime bike night series was perfect.

“I’m grinning from ear to ear,” Thunder Nites Treasurer Libbie Marshall said. “Everybody is having a blast.”

Friday’s rally was the biggest turnout by far for the series, and Marshall couldn’t contain her excitement as she marveled at the crowd on the square.

“We finally caught a break, and it feels great — a great turnout tonight,” Marshall said. “Beautiful weather, an awesome band, cold beverages and cool looking bikes. May was a little bit chilly, but we had an OK turnout, and we were OK with that.

“Last month nobody wanted to give up at all, and the committee took a pretty big hit on that one,” Marshall continued. “Tonight is just fantastic, and we are looking forward to a great August and a great September.”

Des Moines-based Standing Hampton was the “awesome” band and their classic rock sound provided the soundtrack for the family-friendly event. Standing Hampton also made the third straight time the feature band had a female lead singer, which is something Marshall had taken pride in arranging.

The bikes themselves were worth marveling over. One especially intricate sidecar belonged to Bertha, a 150-pound Mastiff, who is also the official mascot of Thunder Nites. Bev and Gene West are Bertha’s owners and waited for Thunder Nites to debut it.

“Bertha the biker dog and our official Thunder Nites mascot rolled up in her newly painted bike and it’s pink,” Marshall said. “It has all kinds of graphics on it and a picture of Bertha. The guy did a really great job on it, and there are a lot of neat bikes with a lot of great paintjobs.”

Thunder Nites had something for everyone and attacked your senses in a good way. There was a pleasant aroma from the various vendors, roars from bike engines and plenty of cold drinks to go around.

The next Thunder Nites in Newton takes place Aug. 9 and will feature Newton’s own Wikid Likir.

“I’m very, very happy,” Marshall said. “This makes all the hard work pay off. Nine months (of planning) on every day off, every morning before work, every evening and organizing the event to make sure that everything happened, when you see a turnout like this, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at