MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — After 21 years, the annual Mustang Week is taking its last ride through Myrtle Beach.
Since its inception in 2001, Mustang Week has united hundreds of cars and thousands of spectators for a week to celebrate the vehicles they love.
Brad Worley is an original staff member of Mustang Week. He said seeing the event leave the Grand Strand is “hard to imagine and honestly heartbreaking.” It has been a part of his life and the lives of many others for so long.
“If you don’t see those faces, you miss them. Those people mean a lot,” Worley said. “So, it’s been tough.”
For some people, Mustang Week has been around for their entire lives.
“My daughter started coming down here with me when she was small, and she’s grown and married now,” Worley said. “So she grew up with this event.”
He said saying goodbye to the people that have made such a big impact is not easy. Every year, Worley and his family make the drive down from Sumter to kick off the week.
“I’ve been doing this drive to start this week for 21 years,” Worley said. “To realize that this is the last one, that’s pretty difficult.”
Since it began in 2001, Mustang Week has expanded each year — outgrowing each of its spaces.
A five-year contract with the convention center ended in 2021. The City of Myrtle Beach decided to not renew that contract.
“I think it’s a push and pull. I really do,” Worley said. “We’ve always played by the rules dealing with the city.”
He said finding an alternative space to house the event that measured up to the convention center was challenging.
“Without the convention center, it made it very difficult,” Worley said. “We just figured it was time, and we realized that it’s gonna be very, very difficult for anyone moving forward to obtain the appropriate permits and whatnot to move forward.”
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune made a Facebook post that read:
“Please be aware that this is Mustang Week in our area. This event is NOT a City of Myrtle Beach event. To our residents and visitors, we apologize in advance for the increased noise. Our police will be out full force making sure that our laws are being followed. Thank you for your patience and understanding!”
News13 reached out to Bethune for a comment on why this was Mustang Week’s last year in the Grand Strand:
“I don’t know why this is the last year for the event. My post was completely taken out of context. I value all of our visitors and welcome them. We are a hospitality driven market and our businesses depend on our tourism. However, we have 35,000 residents who deserve to know what events are taking place and how they may impact our city.”
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce spoke with News13 on the economic impact of the week:
“Events held in the Myrtle Beach area such as car shows help bring in visitors, which in turn, have an economic impact on our region. We hope all our visitors enjoy their time at the beach, including those here for Mustang Week.”
Worley said that he and his Mustang Week team have always played by the city’s rules.
“[We get] every permit that was needed, every permission that was needed,” Worley said. “We’ve always done that in the early days, we would come down and go to city council meetings. We would go to…get the permits. We would go to chamber commerce meetings to pitch what we were up to.”
As for the people who have come to Mustang Week for the past two decades, Worley thanks them.
“It’s incredibly humbling,” Worley said. “We know that it’s not us. It’s not the Mustang Week staff that has made this possible. It’s the Grand Strand.”