Preps for Leesburg Bikefest underway

Leesburg police talk security plans ahead of the 3-day weekend festival

LEESBURG, Fla. – The city of Leesburg is gearing up for its 22nd annual Leesburg Bikefest, including the police department, which is increasing patrols around the downtown area during the event.

Main Street in downtown Leesburg will soon be filled with motorcycles. Biker Jimmy Morphet attends the event every year.

"(There will be) bikes all up and down here, parked in the center, the sides," Morphet said.

Bikefest officials estimate up to 200,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event. 

On Wednesday, food vendors and merchants were preparing for the festival. Several booths were already set up and there were multiple signs posted throughout the downtown area welcoming bikers to the event.

"There's certainly a large influx of people beyond what we're normally accustomed to," Lt. Joe Iozzi, with the Leesburg Police Department, said.

Iozzi said the police department has spent several months preparing for the festival. 

The department is working with other local law enforcement agencies to help with traffic and patrolling the event. Iozzi said officers will also conduct a DUI patrol.

"We have a large uniform presence in the event area, as well as outside the venue," Iozzi said.

This year's event marks the first Bikefest since a fatal shooting between two rival biker gangs last April. The shooting happened at a gas station outside the downtown area. Four men were arrested in connection with the case.

Iozzi wouldn't tell News 6 if police are making any changes to their security plans in the wake of last year's shooting. He also wouldn't say whether officials have heard of any possible issues this year.

"I'm not going into any details about intelligence or anything else," Iozzi said. "The pre-planning that we do, it's not just with our local partners. We do coordinate information and exchange information with our state and federal partners as well."

Iozzi also said security is a top priority. He said law enforcement will be out patrolling the event to make sure everyone is safe and has a good time.

"We really, knock on wood, don't have a great deal of issues," he said.

The Leesburg Bikefest starts Friday. For more information about the festival, click here.

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