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Blue Knights Wisconsin VI

International Convention Milwaukee 2007

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"Once in a Blue Moon"

33rd Annual Blue Knights International Convention

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
July 15-19, 2007

"Turn out the lights, the party's over" Willie Nelson

Well, it's been several weeks since the International Convention, hosted by our chapter, and as Chevy Chase said in "National Lampoon's Vacation I'll need plastic surgery to remove my damn smile! What a week, and judging by the many responses I've received from fellow Blue Knights from around the globe, it was a huge success. There was a great deal of hard work done by many members of WI VI, and all the time and effort they gave paid off. We've been hailed as one of the best, if not the best, International Conventions in club history!

The beginning of the convention
Dennis, Laura, Jim, Patti, Joe & Doni

Before I delve into the highlights of the week, I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all the chapter members and their significant others who made this convention possible. As I've said all along, this convention wouldn't have been possible without your help and support. Thanks to all of your efforts we've raised the bar for future chapters to surpass. In particular I want to acknowledge the hard work of our Registration staff: "Tiny" and Patti Kindt, Bill and Cindy Drees, Bob McDermott and Peggy Paddock, Larry and Jackie Thompson, Deb Koehn, and my lovely girlfriend Laura Duff who dealt with hours of chaos on Day 1 in cramped quarters. To those of you who didn't partake in the festivities, you missed out on one great time, and missed your chance to be part of the Club's history.

Where do I start? Well, I guess some numbers are as good a starting point as any. Overall, we had 1,028 guests who went through 49 half barrels of beer (a new record, beer wise that is). Members were present from Belgium, England, Switzerland, Canada, and Puerto Rico, as well as nearly every state in the Union. According to our hospitality room late shift monitor Mark Newell the average time of members calling it quits was 5:30 AM. True to form our chapter closed it up on Thursday night after a long shootout with the Belgians, which may have been regretted Friday morning. Closer to home, 11 of the 14 Wisconsin chapters were represented.

After the bedlam that was Sunday registration, most of our guests had arrived and were suitably wowed by the hospitality suite. The Crystal Ballroom was elegant, spacious, and well stocked with six beer stations dispensing Miller products, Coors Blue Moon beer, and a different specialty beer from Lakefront Brewery every night. John Karlovich provided great background music and hospitality suite Chairman Chuck Homa made sure our guests were well pampered and stayed hydrated. Ride Captain Pete Simet led an overbooked tour of members down to Lake Geneva for dinner and an evening boat tour, which received rave reviews.

Remember to smile!

Let's move on to Monday, which was a day of business meetings. As chapter president, I was our voice in the Board of Governor's meeting that morning. I'll give you some very quick highlights from this meeting: we're going to Owensboro, KY for the 2009 International (KY II bid unopposed). ILL I (Peoria) is now accepting registrations and hotel reservations for the 2008 International; see their web site for all the particulars. There was lengthy discussion regarding changes to the bylaws regarding Silver Tier membership, with John Gericke introducing a proposal that cleaned up some ambiguous wording of the current bylaws. Past International President Frank Gennari raised his concerns over members not wearing the official blue vests and our continued classification as "outlaws". FYI: our being considered "outlaws" is based more on having a three-piece patch and less on the vest it's affixed to. It's also an issue of image. Don't act like a 1% biker and you won't be considered one.

I missed out on the Monday General Membership meeting to run the poker walk along our Riverwalk. 180 people decided to blow off the General Membership meeting and head out to explore downtown Milwaukee. The winning hand of four 10's netted a top prize of $150 to a woman who knew nothing about poker! A special thanks to Carl "Wacko" Karwacki and my sis Debbie Koehn for helping me out as poker dealers. The poker walk had an unfortunate incident, however. George Krug of CO III suffered a heart attack while doing the walk. Fortunately, he collapsed in front of an MPD motor officer, who radioed for assistance immediately. George was at Mt. Sinai in minutes and a stent was inserted to open the blockage. George was back on his feet and back in the hospitality suite by Thursday night! The hat was passed Monday night, at nearly $1,300 was raised to give to George to fly home while I baby sit his BMW.

Tuesday was organized ride day, with WI II (Watertown) leading a ride to Holy Hill, and WI XI (Racine/Kenosha) leading a ride to the Buell plant. Both rides were overwhelming successes. Not to be rivaled, our chapter put on a rustic road ride, which was well attended and equally raved about. Due to the potential of rain that day the cookout was moved indoors, which made for some tight quarters in the Crystal Ballroom. Later, Nashville recording artist Jim "Harley" Hudson had the place rocking, playing until nearly 2 AM.

Wednesday had a number of members heading up to Green Bay with the members of WI X to tour Lambeau Field. Those who didn't want to make the long drive were treated to a scenic ride to the Lake Country courtesy of WI VI. The day culminated with a tour of the Harley Davidson power train plant and a block party at Milwaukee HD. Then it was back to the Hilton for more socializing and partying.

Thursday, in my opinion, was the crowning moment for this convention. The parade was a blast. This was my girlfriend Laura's first opportunity to ride in a parade, and it was made even more special by her getting to carry the Italian flag. Carl "Wacko" and I handled the bike show that afternoon, and thanks to DW Connors and Bobby Arrington of VA V (my whisky bribed guest judges) the event ran smoothly. By now it was time for the banquet at the Midwest Airline Center. Banquet Chairwoman Cindy Drees did an outstanding job, both with her centerpiece design and her overall coordination of the proceedings. And I'd be remiss if I didn't gratefully acknowledge Past International President Ellen Smit for her invaluable assistance with the parade and the banquet. Event Chairman Joe Kubicek had an excellent program for the evening, though by this point in the week his voice was damn nearly gone!

The house lights were dimmed when Joe called for a moment of silence for our fallen members. Then the flag of each country in which the Blue Knights are represented was brought in by one of our chapter members to the accompaniment of a snippet of that country's national anthem. Jim Hudson sang "Oh Canada" as Chuck Homa carried in the Canadian flag.

It was here that the house lights darkened. Two Milwaukee PD motorcycles started up and came up the main aisle with their red and blue lights going, to the standing ovation and spine tingling roar of the crowd. Immediately following were the members of the MPD color guard bearing the U.S., State, City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee PD flags. Jim Hudson provided an ac cappella rendition of the National anthem and from what I could see there was hardly a dry eye in the place. During the reading of our departed members of Heaven I, "Amazing Grace" was softly played by an MPD color guard bugler. After the reading "Echo Taps" was sounded, which left me with goose bumps. Kudos go to Kevin Porter for arranging the color guard portion of the banquet. After an entertaining speech from key note speaker Jim McCaslin, COO of Harley Davidson, we were served a delicious meal of chicken and beef ribs. Then we moved on to the awards ceremony. John Brough of ILL XIV was honored; he was the officer who was blinded by a shotgun blast last year. Dave Mulford, Chairman of the Board of Governor's presented various awards for lifesaving and meritorious service, and Joe Kubicek presented various plaques to our gathered membership for such things as longest distance and oldest and youngest riders. After dinner it was back to the hospitality suite for more partying to the music of Midnite Blue. It also gave our chapter members a chance to finally relax and join in the partying (see Belgian shootout earlier in this article).

Banquet Cycles Video - Large File

Friday seemed to arrive all too quickly. After years of planning it was finally over. For some of us it was a time to say farewell to our Brother and Sister Blue Knights and get some well deserved rest. For others the fun continued, as several Knights stayed on in Milwaukee and we continued to be their hosts. On Saturday Laura and I headed to Jefferson with Dave Lee (formerly of ENG V, now with ILL IX) and Tri State Rep Jimmy Schneider for WI II's annual poker run. The route was excellent, the weather great, but the run was competing with two other poker runs, a huge party at Wisconsin HD, and WI X’s Etter-Markins ride, so attendance was lower than expected. It was a great feeling to be at a Blue Knight event and NOT be working at it! After the ride we all headed over to Oconomowoc and spent some time and money at Wisconsin HD.

In closing I want to paraphrase Joe Kubicek from his speech at the International Banquet. I want to thank everyone who stood along side me and helped me chase down this dream, to host this International Convention for the Blue Knights, the greatest motorcycle club in the world. To you, my fellow members of WI VI, and to all the other Blue Knights who made this dream possible, I salute you!

Ride with Pride,

"Wrongway" Dennis

By the end of the convention.........

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Last updated on 06-18-2015