The roar of the muffler on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle was heard from blocks away and with every sound of mechanical thunder the students from Holy Family School, Whitefish Bay, knew riders were near.

As they saw the strangers on iron steeds coming down the road they’d yell, “Free coffee! Free tattoos!”

Most would just smile and wave, some would make a quick u-turn and park on the curb. The riders were in town to celebrate the 110th Harley-Davidson anniversary and the students were on hand to welcome them.

“It brings the school together and everybody is willing to work together to come up with a really cute idea,” said Mary Scoville, Holy Family science teacher and Harley-Davidson rider. “It shows family, and not only the parish cares but all the parents are willing to do something to be part of the school.”

During the 105th Harley-Davidson anniversary Holy Family also offered free coffee and washable “guardian angel” tattoos for riders.

“I think it’s important, as a teacher, that we do things like this,” Scoville said.

Scoville, a member of Old St. Mary Parish, Milwaukee, said she and her husband Randy have been riding for 16 years and she uses her experiences on the open road to help her teach.

“The kids love it because when I teach, I give them a lot of life stories of what I do and where I’ve been,” Scoville said.

The students met people from all over the United States and “tatted” as many as they could while serving coffee and doughnuts.

John McGrath rode more than 750 miles from Rural Retreat, Va., for the festival and took advantage of the hospitality.

“I just saw the sign for guardian angel (tattoos) and free coffee, and I had to stop,” McGrath said.

The idea of the “guardian angel” is particularly special to McGrath who has a guardian angel pin attached to his bike.

“Eighteen years ago I went to a blessing of the bikes when I first bought it,” he said. “Someone was giving out guardian angel pins and I put it on the bike and it’s been sitting there for 18 years.”

For Scott Knode and his wife, their trip from Dallas was a scenic tour of the Midwest. Before coming to Milwaukee they visited friends in Detroit, then rode up to the Upper Peninsula and down to Milwaukee.

In all, he said, they traveled roughly 2,300 miles with only the items they could pack on their bike.

“We’ll be at about 4,000 (miles) when we get home,” Knode said. “You learn to pack more efficiently and you learn to do without some of the comforts from home but that’s the experience being on the Harley.”

Knode said when they saw the sign for free coffee they couldn’t resist.

“It just looked like a neat neighborhood gathering and we wanted to be a part of it,” Knode said. “The people of Milwaukee have been so nice; we wanted to come meet some of them.”

Lynette Haman didn’t travel as far as the others, being from Lake Geneva, but said “only in Milwaukee,” will kids wave you down for free coffee and tattoos.

“We thought it was a nice welcome to come to Milwaukee and meet everyone,” she said.

Her husband, Victor, hopes the interaction inspires the kids to ride one day.

“It’s good to get a spark in the children when they see the motorcycles come,” he said. “It’ll get the kids riding when they’re of age. It’s a good thing to do.”

Angela Little, principal of Holy Family, said even though the kids had the day off, she’s proud of the work they were doing.

“For them it isn’t work. This is fun,” Little said. “That’s Holy Family; it really sums it up. They’re a family, they love to be together even when they’re not at school.”