'American Heat' revs up local economy

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Thousands of bikers rode into the Coachella Valley for the "American Heat" Motorcycle Weekend.  Street vendors, live music and lots of bikes take over Palm Springs for  the three-day event.  Local businesses hope this event will rev up sales.

Lonny Whittington, the manager for Palm Springs Treasures, says, "I felt the energy this morning."

Mel Feingold, a Palm Springs resident, says, "The festival is cool, it's a good time."

Venders line the streets of downtown Palm Springs selling everything from Harley gear and leather, to helmets and sun glasses.

Chris Teneyck, who rode in from Orange County, says, "It's mainly just a bunch of us get together and hang out.  Its fun to come and check out the bikes and check out the exhibits."

Riders from all over the state, from Washington, even Florida rode into the Coachella Valley.

Bob Porter rode in from Northern California.  "We left yesterday morning.  It's a 500 mile ride.  No big deal, about 8 hours down here, so take a few days off and get in the sun," said Porter.

Doug Valverde came from Hemet.  "Just sat on a bike ride and came down the 10 freeway and it was a beautiful morning ride from coldness into the sun, that is what riding is all about is getting into the wind," said Valverde.

It's events like this one that help keep the local economy running.

James Canfield, the executive director for Palm Springs Convention Center and Bureau of Tourism, says, "It was only a week ago where the streets where filled with airplanes and Ferraris, and now this weekend we've got motorcycles."

This event is expected to bring in about 5,000 people from all over, that's 5,000 bikes and 5,000 people who are ready to spend some money.

Canfield says, "Most of these folks come in for two or three days and really make it a great weekend out here in Palm Springs."

Whittington says, "We get a lot of traffic out of it. so we are very appreciative of them coming and we hope they stay."

Teneyck says, "We check out the shops.  We try not to spend a lot of money usually the wives are the ones doing that, but we have a good time."

Area businesses hope people continue to have a good time, with riders coming back year after year.

"Just another great example of how Palm Springs really appeals to everybody," said Canfield.

The event has closed down Palm Canyon Drive from Amado Road to Arenas Road.  It will open again Sunday after 11 p.m.

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