The History of H.O.G. – Alaska Chapter 66, Anchorage

By: Barry Matteson


In 1983, Harley-Davidson established the Harley Owners Group, or more simply, H.O.G. Harley-Davidson realized that they had thousands of customers who wanted to share their passion to ride and to be able to show off their pride – their Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

A few of us here inAnchoragedecided we should have our own Harley Owners Group. During the fall and winter of ’83-84, Barry andKaren Matteson, Slim and Lillian Shomper, Jerry and Sue Winfrey, Jack and Don Mize, and perhaps a few others who may have been forgotten, started our chapter by going to a different restaurant once a month for a “meeting”. To insure punctuality, the last to show up got stuck with the bill. Our first directive was to remain non political and to have fun. The camaraderie and enthusiasm grew as did the number of people attending. Fortunately, we had to abandon the punctuality rule, because I was usually the last to get to the meeting.

By 1985 there were over 60,000 national H.O.G. members, and Harley-Davidson formed a plan to establish local chapters. The Alaska Chapter was among the first to apply of the 49 chapters established that year. We chose the name “Alaska Chapter” because we represented such a large area of the state. We had to add the word “Anchorage” because of the location of the sponsoring dealership – the House of Harley-Davidson in Anchorage. We received our official H.O.G. charter for the Alaska Chapter, Anchorage on October 8, 1985.

By 1991, H.O.G. National had over 150,000 members with 685 chapters. Today there are approximately 1300 chapters and over 1,000,000 members world wide. H.O.G. is the largest factory sponsored motorcycle organization in the world. The Alaska Chapter, Anchorage had maintained a membership of between 650 and 800 between 1995 and 2005. The Chapter membership in 2006 dropped by about 16% primarily due to the formation of the Mat-Su Valley HOG Chapter in August 2005. However, it seems that the number of participants in most of our Chapter events throughout the years has grown.

In 1994 we held our first State H.O.G. Rally inAnchorage. By this time a chapter had been established inFairbanks, and we agreed with them to alternate the State Rally between the two locations, which we have done since. There are now five chapters in Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su Valley and Juneau, which expands the possibility of different State Rally locations for the future.

Part of the success of the Alaska Chapter,Anchorageis a result of our motto “to ride and have fun”. The only requirements to become a member are to own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and to be a member of national H.O.G. The local membership fee is only $20 per year. Associate Memberships are available, and we have an active Ladies of Harley group within our chapter.

Alaska Chapter,Anchoragehas supported the Muscular Dystrophy Association since 1984. Our current MDA fund raising activities are centered around the annual Live Ride. Riders register for the event and spend time getting donations from friends, relatives and co-workers. All donors are then entered in a chance to win a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Since 1984, we have raised over $500,000 for the local chapter of MDA.

In 2003, fifty HOG members rode from Anchorage to Milwaukee to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Twenty Nine of us did it again in 2008 for the 105th Anniversary, and we are currently working on plans for the 110th Anniversary Party in 2013. For the commemorative opening of the Harley-Davidson Museum in 2008, our chapter purchased a rivet that will remain a part of the museum grounds forever. It is engraved with “ANCHORAGE ALASKA CHAPTER 66 RIDING IN THE LAST FRONTIER”. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this great museum, look for our rivet.

Our Chapter is well thought of throughout the Alaska biker community. This is the result of our involvement in and promotion of motorcycle events, education and safety. We have a strong and gracious group of Chapter officers – past and present and of course, the many HOG Chapter members who volunteer.

What does the future hold for H.O.G.? To quote the member literature: “We can’t say for sure, but from here the road ahead looks long, wide open, winding and scenic – with lots of new friends to make along the way”! There are many benefits of belonging to the Harley Owners Group. For all the details, visit these web sites: http://www.hog.com and www.hogalaska.com.

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