Hundreds of bikers to descend on Port Dover for Friday the 13th

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The OPP say there will be a heightened police presence at the rally

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bikers are expected to gather in Port Dover today for Friday the 13th celebrations. Provincial police say the bikers and other visitors will notice a heightened police presence in the town on the north shore of Lake Erie.

Since 1981, motorcycle enthusiasts have been converging on Port Dover whenever Friday the 13th appears on the calendar. The event attracts bikers from across Ontario and parts of the United States to the community with a population of about 6,000.

The last gathering in July, 2018 drew about 200,000 people on a warm, sunny day, but Friday's forecast is less inviting. It's expected to be cloudy with afternoon showers and the risk of a thunderstorm, and that will likely put a damper on the numbers.

Provincial police are urging those who will be making the trip to drive responsibly.

"We're asking people, please do not drink and drive or have any intoxicating substances in your system, getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle or the handlebars of a motorcycle," said Norfolk OPP Constable Ed Sanchuk.

Spot checks planned

He said the force is planning "roaming ride spot checks" to ensure that drivers of all vehicles are sober.

Sanchuck encourages anyone heading to Port Dover to pack "an ample supply of patience" for heavy road volumes. 

Air space in the town will closed during the day except for police, medevac and rescue aircraft.

A motorcyclist tours through downtown Port Dover, Ontario, during the town's Friday the 13th celebrations Friday, June 13, 2014. (Geoff Robins/Canadian Press)

And the OPP Biker Enforcement Unit (BEU) is warning those at the rally to be aware of the attendance of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

'Avoiding' gang-related merchandise

In a statement, it says while the vast majority of motorcycle riders are law-abiding citizens, outlaw motorcycle gangs exist and profit from illegal activities, such as fraud, drug and human trafficking, extortion and money laundering.

The OPP is reminding the public that purchasing and wearing gang-related merchandise is unwittingly supporting known organized crime groups, and that the profits from the sale of such merchandise directly supports illegal activities.

"It may seem like a simple t-shirt or hat, but wearers of support merchandise may unknowingly impact their own personal safety, especially given the tensions between rival gangs," said Detective Inspector Brad Nunn with the Investigation and Support Bureau of the OPP.

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