Chunky River Harley-Davidson draws
huge crowd to grand opening
MOTORCYCLE FAN Hugh Gay of Rocky Hill Customs in Louisville checks over his bike Saturday at the grand opening of the Chunky River Harley-Davidson in Meridian. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 10, 2003
Meurice LeFevre estimates that 4,000-5,000 people roared into his place of business Saturday, many of them on motorcycles, for the grand opening of Chunky River Harley-Davidson.
Parking lots of neighboring businesses were filled with cars and motorcycles left by people who walked to LeFevre's business at the corner of Bonita Lakes Drive and South Frontage Road. Some people walked from Bonita Lakes Mall, even though free shuttle service was available from the mall to the Harley dealership.
The day was a family outing for some who brought their children, grandchildren and even pets to the dealership as they looked at Harley-Davidson motorcycles and clothes.
LeFevre said it is Harley-Davidson's staying power that attracts so many people.
Giveaways, including such items as shirts and hats, were held every hour during the celebration, scheduled from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. A grand prize of a $1,000 gift certificate also was awarded. Two bands played during the day and proceeds collected by various concession stands went to charities, including the Salvation Army and Hope Village for Children.
The start of something big
The new dealership cost more than $4.5 million including the building, land and inventory. It covers 33,000-square feet and it includes an upstairs area reserved for "HOG" (Harley Owners Group) members only. It includes a lounge, pool table, dart games, a big-screen television and an auditorium.
LeFevre, 65, is originally from Atlanta and his wife, Peggy, is originally from Meridian. They began running their Harley dealership on B Street about a year and a half ago. The current location opened in June. LeFevre said during their first year of business they managed to increase their business by 300 percent.
Although there were many people at the grand opening from the neighboring states of Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama, some people dropped in on LeFevre's business from several hundred miles away, including North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Colorado.
Getting people excited
LeFevre, like many Harley enthusiasts, said he first fell in love with Harley-Davidsons at an early age, when his dad brought one home around 1949.
Kenny Reynolds, 47, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was at the grand opening. Reynolds customizes motorcycles for Chunky River Harley-Davidson. It is one of five dealerships with which he works.
Growing up in south Louisiana, he said was around a lot of racing cars and boats, but motorcycles sparked something in him at an early age. All of his life he has worked toward working solely on motorcycles.
Gary Johnson, 50, of Butler, Ala., came to the grand opening to show off Harley-Davidson drag racing bikes he works on. His work with motorcycles is a side business to his work at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Pennington, Ala.
He said he saw his first Harley when he was about 6 or 7 years old, when his father brought one home.
He said he attended grand openings of Harley shops in Mobile, Ala., and Montgomery, Ala., but that Saturday's turnout for Chunky River Harley-Davidson was by far the greatest.