NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Growing frustration around a canceled St. Patrick’s Day parade in North Myrtle Beach is causing tension.
Local businesses on Main Street have rallied together to come up with an alternative plan to attract customers and their wallets.
A pub crawl involving golf carts was proposed to city officials in the planning and development department.
Pat Dowling, city spokesperson, says things escalated when a Facebook post called for sports teams and dance schools to join “the golf cart parade.”
The city says a parade permit was never requested or submitted and if it were, it would be denied by city council due to safety concerns during the pandemic.
“That takes it to a level of a pub crawl on golf carts to a full blown parade. Literally in the ordinance calling for a parade is illegal unless it’s approved by the city,” said Dowling.
A public warning was issued saying the illegal event could be disbanded by police.
Some ask why public safety couldn’t crowd control the event.
“We’ve got people in quarantine. We’ve got people out with COVID, so we have to put our police resources where we can,” said Dowling.
The city says it is not stopping businesses from hosting private events that are within city and state law.
“And be responsible. Don’t just say it’s up to you if you come or not, whether or not you’re going to get COVID. Be responsible. Protect people,” said Dowling.
Organizers say the golf cart parade has been canceled, but golf carts are legally permitted to be on Main Street.
Several business owners are concerned that the city is approving events that make it profit during the pandemic and cancel free events that help out small businesses.
“To say that the city is anti-small business on Main Street is a joke,” said Dowling.
In December the city hosted its annual Great Christmas Light Show that drew double the attendance in 2019.
Sports tournaments are also being held at the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex.
The city says these events were approved by the state with safety measures set in place.
Dowling says the city needs to host for-profit events to keep city taxes down.
He says all profits made are put into the city’s general fund.
“It keeps property taxes down at least one [million], maybe two on a good year. So there’s a reason we do these things. We don’t just take it and put it in a safe and say we’re rich. We use it to keep taxes down.”
Businesses say the pub crawl is still a go and will be held within legal limits.