CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The spring bike rally in Horry County will happen this year, although it will technically be held in the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bikers have already returned to some popular South Strand places like the bar Suck Bang Blow in Murrells Inlet. While thousands more were supposed to come in a few days for the annual spring bike rally, the events won’t be stopped.
Horry County Council voted in a virtual meeting Tuesday night to allow special event and vendor permits associated with the Myrtle Beach Bike Week rally. The rally will also move to July 13-19.
Many on council say it’s important to invite more tourists back to help out the county’s economy.
“We need every potato in the pot to support our businesses and if that means pulling together to make one-time exemptions for rallies to bring tourists to our area, we need to do it,” said Tyler Servant, who represents Surfside Beach and Garden City, near where many events are held.
Council member Gary Loftus, who represents parts of Myrtle Beach and some South Strand communities, was the only one against allowing the rally. He says there will be too many rallies in about four months.
That includes Atlantic Beach’s Memorial Day weekend Bikefest, which was moved to Labor Day weekend, and the spring group’s fall rally.
“Everybody lost business,” Loftus said. “Everybody’s trying to recover and I fully understand that, but I just think it’s overkill. In the October rally, they just pick it up and move on from there.”
Assistant county administrator Randy Webster, who oversees the county’s public safety, says police and fire rescue will work the July rally. He added that there will be increased patrols for Memorial Day weekend, even with Bikefest canceled.
Webster also says he’s concerned about accommodations tax money to pay for those first responders, with potentially five rallies in next year’s budget.
“There’s just not enough a-tax funding to support more than three annual rallies and that is now questionable with the a-tax revenue thus far,” he said.
Webster also says the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce was opposed to the July rally.
In a statement to News13 Tuesday night, Chamber president and CEO Karen Riordan says:
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber remains staunchly pro-business, understanding that our businesses wish to recoup losses, after having suffered terribly due to the COVID-19 crisis, with business being disrupted for close to two months. When contacted by the county about the proposed bike rally in July, we were informed that it will put additional burden on our law enforcement personnel, as well as financial burden on the county, as both spring bike rallies have already been re-scheduled for September and October. The Chamber is sympathetic to this reality, as the county will also suffer significant tax revenue losses due to COVID-19.
Council members say it may not be as expensive as the $170,000 the county usually spends on first responders for the bike rally, since they expect fewer visitors.
“I don’t think it’ll put anything like the taxing on our public safety personnel that our spring rallies do,” said Johnny Vaught, who represents the Forestbrook community.
Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson already canceled its spring bike rally events and says it has no plans for anything during the July rally week. It will have a smaller open house event the weekend after the July rally.
The spring rally is expected to go back to May next year.
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