I know that a lot of people, myself included, were pretty shocked when we first heard that Bay Point was going to be one of the venues for this year’s Thunder Beach spring rally. The two just didn’t seem go together, and there were many understandable concerns from Bay Point and Panama City Beach residents about the potential noise and disruptions from the large number of motorcycles.
I decided to go check out the new venue for myself and believe it or not, I was actually really impressed with what I saw. The venue is located only at the Marriott Bay Point Golf Resort and Spa – so bikes are unable to enter the actual Bay Point community without either going through the guard gate or knowing the code to the newer barrier at the Reflections resort. Everything to do with Thunder Beach is contained within the front parking area for the hotel and inside the convention rooms. Inside, three or four large areas offer a huge variety of clothing and merchandise, and outside is set-up much the same, reminding me of a marketplace with just lots of really cool stuff available for purchase. There’s a tent where you can listen to live music, and the usual concession items including drinks, food and snacks.
Being a new venue and not being directly on the beach, Thunder Beach at the Marriott is not overrun with bikes, so the vroom vrooms are kept to a minimum and there’s plenty of space to walk around and enjoy the bikes. If you weren’t familiar with Thunder Beach then this would just seem like any other regular event, and certainly not the wild, noisy spectacle many envisioned. Whether the Marriott Bay Point will continue to play host to Thunder Beach remains to be seen, but if the remainder of this year’s spring rally at Bay Point is without complaint or issue then it might actually end up being a pretty good fit after all.