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Article: A Look Back at How it All Started
A couple of months ago (Written October 2013), GWRRA celebrated the 35th anniversary of Wing Ding in Greenville, S.C., where 9,000- plus Members joined the celebration through the various events and activities planned to honor this long-standing event. Not only is Wing Ding the largest Gold Wing tradeshow in the industry, but also, as we like to say, “The largest family reunion in the world.”
In 1978, GWRRA Founder Paul Hildebrand set out to gather all of the then-GWRRA family in one location for a weekend get-together of food, games, skill enhancement, shopping and, most importantly, camaraderie. Being that GWRRA was founded in Phoenix, Ariz., they felt it was appropriate to host the event here at a local resort named The Pointe. Paul recalls how as the night prior to the start of the event drew closer and closer to an end, he noticed from up in his room that there were still no Gold Wings in the parking lot. And like any event host would, he began to wonder if anyone was actually going to show up. “It felt like time began to speed on by and the Sun had begun to quickly set,” Paul recalls. “I began to really worry when darkness came, until off in the distance I noticed what appeared to be a few motorcycle headlights. Then a few more, followed by a few more! The excitement began to set in because I knew Wing Ding was being born.” When all was said and done, 647 attendees would participate in that very first Wing Ding.
Wing Ding would go on to spend it’s first three years in Phoenix, Ariz., followed by a couple of years in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
1984 marked the first year that Wing Ding began touring all over the United States making stops in Knoxville, Tenn.; Santa Clara, Calif..; Louisville, Ky. and other great destinations that would continue to draw out more and more attendees to the ever-growing events.
I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of both the planning and the on-site activities of Wing Ding since 2000, when it returned to Billings, Mont. for the second time, and the first word that came to my mouth was, “Wow!” To witness that many Members volunteer so much of their time and work so hard to put on an event of that size was both exciting and inspiring. I learned that Wing Ding was truly about Members giving their all to make sure Members had a great time in everything they did during the whole event.
Wing Ding is truly a celebration of just how great the GWRRA is, and I can honestly say I can’t wait to see each and every one of you for Wing Ding 36 in Madison, Wis. Safe Travels!
Written By Abel Gallardo – GWRRA President (Written October 2013)