Ahead of the ABATE of Iowa Freedom Rally, Kossuth County officials and some Algona residents were concerned about thousands of bikers coming into their community during the coronavirus pandemic

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Sarah Beckman-We are IOWA

ALGONA, Iowa — Ahead of the ABATE of Iowa Freedom Rally, Kossuth County officials and some Algona residents were concerned about thousands of bikers coming into their community during the coronavirus pandemic. But in the first day of the rally, the county’s emergency coordinator is pleased with what he’s seeing.

Protest quickly escalated when the Rat Pack Motorcycle Club showed up and began to build a human wall around the Columbus statue outside the city hall.

“We pay attention to the rally based on the number of ambulance calls we receive out there,” said David Penton, Kossuth County Emergency Management Coordinator. “And it really has been really good, really quiet. I think they’ve only had one ambulance call out there.”

The county has been preparing for the annual motorcycle gathering in Algona for months. They have been communicating with state officials about what they need to make sure everyone is safe. Thousands of items of personal protective equipment, including masks and gowns, were provided by the state. Penton said he feels like that preparation has been pivotal ahead of the three-day-long event.

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“From our perspective, it’s going well,” said Penton in regards to communication with rally organizers. “They told us in a meeting on Wednesday night their plans to make announcements every day, and they’re telling people to only send one person into town for what they need.”

An Algona resident sent Local 5 this picture of the Chrome truck stop in town, filled with bikers on Friday morning. Penton said that he has heard motorcyclists throughout the day, but things quiet down after 5 p.m.

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“I am pleasantly surprised, I will be honest…I’m very pleasantly surprised. I was anticipating maybe a little bit of ‘I want to show my freedom and fly our flags and it’s about me,’ because that’s the society that we live in right now, but it’s a genuine care for one another,” said Penton.

The ABATE of Iowa Freedom Rally wraps up on Saturday evening.

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