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Letters to the Editor

The truth about Thunder Nites in Newton

To the editor:

Thunder Nites in Newton has wrapped up its second year of successful bike nights on the Newton Town Square. 

Due to hard work and dedication by a group of volunteers, we are looking forward to continuing the tradition of gaining the notoriety of becoming the 2nd largest bike night in the State of Iowa behind Indianola who has been hosting bike nights for the past 10 years.

Thunder Nites is a nonprofit reorganization of the Weekend Pit Stop charter. There was much research in a short amount of time that originally went in to the preparations of Thunder Nites for our inaugural season of 2012. 

We modeled ourselves after the success of Indianola and were told by their organization not to be discouraged if we only had 50 to 100 bikes show up for a couple of years. Imagine our surprise when on May 11, 2012, approximately 600 motorcycles showed up to support us.

Since that time we have continued to grow.

Please allow me to let you in on some facts about motorcycle enthusiasts who attend bike nights. The average age of a motorcyclist who attends a bike night is approximately 50 years old.

These are working class white- and blue-collar workers. Whether they are lawyers, doctors, teachers, factory workers, construction workers and/or Veterans, they share the love of motorcycles and meeting new people.

Many a motorcycle man will tell you his first love is his bike and the second is the woman on the back. Motorcycle women understand this philosophy and smile if their man puts it like that. 

Many women ride their own bikes and love the open road as much as the men do. The camaraderie and mutual respect between these motorcycle enthusiasts is second to none.

When a town hosts a bike night, it is open to the public. Micah Cope’s letter to the editor raised some question as to exactly what Thunder Nites is promoting. 

First and foremost Mr. Cope, we do not advocate drinking and driving. We provide the music and vendors supply the food and beverages for the enjoyment of those who attend bike night. 

The true motorcyclist traveling to a bike night is not a heavy drinker and would never think of putting themselves and others at risk by being drunk on their bike. 

It was unfortunate that he stated he witnessed a 14 year old smoke their first cigarette and we can only wonder; where were this child’s parents?

I can also guarantee two Newton police officers are present at every single bike night as I personally speak to them.   

What we do promote is a two-fold mission. First, to bring people in to Newton to experience what Newton and Jasper County has to offer. Each bike night it is announced on stage what the happenings are around the town and county.

Second, is to be able to give back to the community through the events. This year we are pleased to say, we were able to aid and/or donate to the AKTION club of Progress Industries, Poweshiek Animal League Service and Historic Route 6 for the benefit of Jasper County.

The estimation of revenue into the city and county throughout the course of the bike night season is approximately $500,000. This could be through gasoline sales, food sales, hotel stays or grocery stores.

Many nonprofit groups have taken advantage of promoting their organization on the town square during bike nights. We have welcomed the Jasper County Animal Rescue League, the Veterans Administration, the Patriot Guard Riders and the Newton American Legion Riders just to name a few.

We welcome any nonprofit to set up a table at bike night to promote their organization.   

Thunder Nites In Newton committee would like to thank the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, Jasper County Sheriff Office, Jasper County Attorneys Officer, Newton City Council, The Mayor’s Office, Newton Police Department, Newton City Attorney Office, Newton Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Newton Chamber of Commerce for their continued support. 

We would also like to thank Walter G. Anderson Inc., Handy Industries, Dynasty Cab, KCOB/Energy 106.7, Riggs Printing/Weekly Classified, Jimmy Johns, Doll Distributing, Fenders Cycle, Papa Wolfie’s BBQ, Magnum Automotive, Barney’s Auto & Wrecker Service, Iowa Speedway, Iowa Speedway Foundation, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance, Lauterbach Buick GMC, Interstate Insurance, Sullivan Auto Body, Lonnie Portner – State Farm, Pappy’s Antique Mall, Robert McCarey – Prudential, Hy-Vee and Car Country for your sponsorship to Thunder Nites.  Our volunteers have been vital to our success.

Those who donated their time are Bob O’Brien, Doug Wolf, Libbie Marshall, Terri Kotik, Melody VanderLeest, Denny Danks, Tamara Danks, Linda Bacon, Norman Maple, Kay Martin, Lisa Gregory, Staci Hobbs, Heather Cotreau, Julie Owen, Jodi Hokanson, Deb Beckjorden, Mike Poston, Steve Noah, Jimmy VanderVeer, Melissa Champoux, Dawn Hoover, Jacker Minner, Dan Badger, Lisa Badger and Lori Lakin.

With the second year behind us, I can say, we did learn new things. And changes for the better be made for the 2014 season. If we work together as a community, these events will continue to be successful.

One of the things we would like to add for 2014 is a Kid Zone. This has been a challenge to us to get something together. We are also currently seeking 2014 sponsors, food vendors and volunteers.

Please know we are always open for comments and suggestions. Our website is We are on Facebook at

Libbie Marshall

Treasurer, Thunder Nites In Newton

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