Local officials react to Roar on the Shore venue change

This year’s annual Roar on the Shore festivities will now take place at Lake Erie Speedway, 10700 Delmas Dr., North East, and local officials are weighing in on how they feel the change will impact the North East community. 

Roar on the Shore, now in its 12th year, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise charitable funds for other nonprofits. Since its inception, Roar on the Shore has raised more than $940,000. 

The event is scheduled for July 17 through July 21. 

“Roar on the Shore continues to grow each year. With that growth comes more challenges, particularly in the area of security and safety,” said Ralph Pontillo, Roar’s executive director. “As a result, we began the process of exploring alternate sites for the event — one that would allow us to fulfill our charitable purpose and meet the needs of our sponsors, vendors and the tens of thousands of visitors who join us each year. We are pleased to announce we have secured that spot. Starting this year, Lake Erie Speedway will be the home of Roar on the Shore. 

While we regret this necessary move, it is appropriate to acknowledge that Roar would not have grown so rapidly and so successfully without the critical support of the citizens of Erie,” he added. “We are grateful for that support and are proud we will continue to raise those charitable funds on behalf of our community.”

North East Area Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, Holly Ferruggia, says she feels the venue change will have a positive impact on North East. 

“We’re excited,” she said. “We think it will definitely be beneficial to local businesses. I’m interested to see how many bikers travel down the hill and come downtown. We appreciate the business we’ve gotten in the past during the other rides, so we’re eager to see how this first year goes with the new venue.”

North East Borough Manager Patrick Gehrlein agrees and said the borough will be working with Roar on the Shore officials to ensure an ease to the community.  

“Right now, we are trying to set up a meeting with Roar on the Shore officials to discuss the impact,” he said. “We’re working to make sure it’s a safe adjustment. We’re not anticipating anything major as far as inconveniences.”

Gehrlein said he thinks area businesses will see some increased revenue during the week of Roar on the Shore. 

“This could be a potential boom for businesses in town,” he said. “Poker runs and other rides associated with Roar have gone through our area before and we’ve seen more people here for those.”

The North East Police Department is also busy preparing for any safety or traffic concerns that might arise. 

“We’re obviously going to have more traffic, but I think it’ll be good for the community,” said Lt. Dan Schenk with the NEPD. 

“We already deal with heavy traffic during Wine Fest and Cherry Fest,” he added. “It shouldn’t be much different.”

Schenk noted that Roar on the Shore could mean an extra police presence. 

“If need be, we’ll adjust and have more officers on hand,” he said. “The actual event is in Greenfield, so it’s really state police’s territory.

One of the biggest traffic concerns would be the annual Bringin’ in the Roar parade.  

“The parade will still start at the casino and most of the route will remain the same as years past,” Pontillo. “We couldn’t obtain permits from the city, so now we are looking at three different re-routing options. After reviewing those, we will choose one.” 

Pontillo added that he is extremely pleased to bring this event to the speedway and the local community. 

“The venue was built for something like this,” he said. ‘The facility is designed to host large crowds, and we certainly have a large crowd attending.

“We’ve had about 165,000 people each year,” Pontillo added. “We’ve pretty consistently stayed around that number. Change always has an impact, so the number of participants could go up or down. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

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