MILWAUKEE -- Harley-Davidson declared Milwaukee "Party City USA" as they kicked off the 115th anniversary celebration in Veterans Park on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
It was a muddy start after three days of storms, but no one seemed to mind. Veterans Park was transformed into a festival, and unlike Lollapalooza or Summerfest, visitors didn't have to pay admission.
There were signs of the celebration getting underway not just on the road, but also in the air on Wednesday.
"If you look 5,000 feet in the air, you are going to notice a Huey Helicopter," said a Harley official.
Parachutists landed in Veterans Park before officials kicked off the party for Harley-Davidson owners from across the country and world.
"It's every boy's dream in New Zealand to ride a Harley," said Colin Hitchen.
Hitchen was with a group of Kiwis, ending a U.S. motorcycle tour in Milwaukee.
"We've done 11 states, just over 5,000 miles, and we've loved every minute of it," said Hitchen.
The "Moto Carnival" in Veterans Park included performers, music and unique experiences like helicopter rides. One of the most thrilling experiences was the "Wall of Death."
"It's as simple as, this is my career choice fresh out of high school. I've been riding in this Wall of Death since I was about 17 years old. It's 12 feet high and 30 feet round. We can fit 230 people at a time," said Rhett Giordano.
His show not only entertains; it also serves as a lesson in Harley history.
"I am happy to be in Milwaukee just as much as these people are, and it's an honor to come in here and entertain," said Giordano.
His mix of vintage and newer bikes elicits both gasps and smiles.
The party lasts until Sept. 2, culminated by a parade through the streets of Milwaukee.