Unusual biker convention picks Batavia as host

Aug 17, 2015

By Paul Mrozek pmrozek@batavianews.com

The terms motorcycle club and Freemason don’t seem to fit together in the same sentence but a biker organization in Batavia this week melds the two into one.

About 90 members of Masonic Motorcycle Club are in town for five days to participate in the group’s annual international convention. Masons arrived Sunday and Monday and will stay until Thursday night or Friday morning.

The convention is based at the Days Inn.

Tonawanda resident and convention committee organizer Connie Dorney said the club is family oriented and has nothing in common with the 1 percenters, the criminal gangs that give biker clubs their outlaw reputation.

“We’re more of a social group. We’re a morally-based group,” Dorney said.

Another person who is part of this week’s organizing committee is Dorney’s husband, Kent, president of Buffalo-based Masonic Chapter 12. A Pennsylvania couple, Dean and Karen Gonya, round out the committee.

Convention attendees are from as far away as Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia and Vermont. So what type of activities will the masons get up to this week?

Nothing illegal, according to Dorney. They include an ice cream social at Oliver’s Candies and visits to Niagara Falls, Lockport’s locks and Letchworth State Park.

“This is a very exciting convention,”  Dorney said.

There’s also meals at restaurants such as City Slickers, Settlers and Miss Batavia.

“We try to promote the local economy,” Dorney said.

One near-mandatory event is a tour of Batavia Cemetery for a look at a monument erected in memory of William Morgan, the Batavia man who published Masonic secrets in the 1820s and then mysteriously disappeared.

The masons will do some partying at the Days Inn but not until bikers are off the road.

“There’s no drinking until the motorcycles are put away for the night,” Dorney said.