An unofficial gathering
Doodle Bug enthusiasts turn out despite cancellation of annual reunion
This week was supposed to be the 34th annual Doodle Bug Club of America reunion, the celebration of the little red scooter produced in Webster City from 1946 through 1948. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided the best thing to do would be to cancel the event for the safety of all involved. So on Aug. 10, the group announced that there would be no reunion in 2020.
But that didn’t stop some diehard Doodle Bug fans from traveling to Webster City this week.
Wednesday afternoon, about 20 Doodle Bug owners set up campers and tents at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds for an unofficial gathering. Scooter enthusiasts pulled into the fairgrounds from Nebraska, Minnesota and even California. A few more riders are expected to arrive Thursday and Friday.
“Remember, this is unofficial, it’s a non-event,” said Webster City club member Jerry Wells. “But Matt Smith worked with Gerald Huisman to make this happen.”
Smith, of Fremont, Nebraska, said he was disappointed about the cancellation, but it didn’t take long for an alternate plan to develop. He said he thought it was important for the group to get together this week.
“I think everybody’s been cooped up too long and I figured we could social distance and do it outside. Everybody seemed to jump on board when I mentioned it,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of people who look forward to this every year.”
Huisman said a flyer was sent out announcing the “outlaw” event.
“The flyer explained that if people wanted to come, there would be people here,” Huisman said.
“I’ve never seen attendance like this on a Wednesday even when they have the regular reunions,” he said. “It’s humbling.”
Unlike the traditional reunion, this week’s gathering will be held outside and there will be no banquet. But like in previous years, there will be plenty of opportunities for riders to hit the trail. Huisman said the riders were given permission to travel the streets of Webster City as long as they were in groups of at least four. They’ll also take to the Boone River Recreational Trail for a ride to Briggs Woods Park.
“We’re hoping to do two or three of those rides,” Huisman said. “The city manager gave us the option to do the ride out to the airport. We just need to give him a call and they’ll even give us a police escort.”
Smith said he started attending the Doodle Bug Reunions as a boy with his father. This year, he’s brought his daughter, Mayann, 13, and son, Mason, 11. His sister and brother-in-law also drove in for the gathering. Smith said brought along five of his 12 scooters for the event.
“Dad missed the first reunion, but came to the second one. I came to the third one and have been attending ever since,” Smith said.
The fellowship with other Doodle Bug owners is what keeps bringing him back to Webster City every year.
“We’ve made some great friends,” he said. “And the riding helps, too.”
Three generations of the Rosen family drove cross country from California to attend the event. Kevin Rosen said he wouldn’t have missed it and loves the community.
“We look forward to this every year,” Rosen said. This year he brought his daughter, Regan, 15 and his dad, Bryan.
Rosen said he tells people all about the annual reunion and Webster City when he goes to shows around the country.
“I know if people come, they’ll be back every year,” he said.
Rosen and Smith both said they appreciated how the community of Webster City rolls out the welcome mat each year for the scooter enthusiasts.
“The city here is awesome for letting us come out and ride on their streets and the trails,” Smith said. “I don’t think there’s any place like it in the world.”