Harley-Davidson gas tanks receive papal blessing in Vatican City



The Business Journal by Jeff Engel, Reporter

Friday, October 5, 2012, 8:18am CDT

Harley-Davidson Inc.

Pope Benedict XVI blessed a pair of Harley-Davidson motorcycle gas tanks at the Vatican Wednesday as part of the company’s upcoming 110th anniversary next year. On hand for the blessing was Willie G. Davidson, grandson of one of the company’s founders.

Jeff Engel

Two Harley-Davidson motorcycle gas tanks got an extra special blessing this week from the pope himself.

Willie G. Davidson, grandson of one of Harley-Davidson’s founders, and his son, Bill Davidson, vice president of the Harley-Davidson Museum, presented two commemorative motorcycle gas tanks to Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican City on Wednesday. The tanks were to be signed by the pope and the two Davidsons and mounted on two Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

One motorcycle will be displayed at the Harley-Davidson Museum, while the other will be auctioned to support the Good Samaritan Foundation, according to a press release.

The pope’s blessing this week launched the countdown to Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary event in Rome in June 2013.

Next year’s celebration in Rome will feature a party in the Port of Ostia, a parade through the heart of Rome, two headlining concerts at Stadio Olimpico and a papal bike blessing at St. Peter’s Square, the company said.

“We’re anticipating next year’s celebration in Rome to be one of the largest events we’ve ever held outside the U.S.,” said Ken Ostermann, Harley-Davidson’s general manager of international marketing operations. “That is a strong testament to our continued global transformation as we respond to our growing fan base all over the world.”

Harley-Davidson has planned 12 events in 11 countries for its year-long 110th anniversary celebration that runs through September 2013.

An event in Milwaukee from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 next year will cap off the celebrations.

Jeff Engel is The Business Journal's reporter covering the manufacturing industry and technology.