Tourism Talk | Beach comes to computer

dbryant@thesunnews.comJuly 24, 2011 

Longing for a look at the ocean but stuck behind your desk? You'll have a couple more webcam angles to check out in the coming months.

Two more cameras are set to find homes atop buildings in Myrtle Beach's bustling amusement district to give folks who can't scoot down to Ocean Boulevard another way to check out the view.

The cameras are to be installed at Ripley's Believe It or Not museum at the corner of the Boulevard and Ninth Avenue North and at Karma Nightlife and Mr. Joe White Avenue, giving viewers a look toward the SkyWheel, Plyler Park and of the ocean.

"People are always interested in how things look, what's going on," said Dave Sebok, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corp., which bought the cameras.

Links to the cameras will be on several websites, including those operated by the City of Myrtle Beach, hotels, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and others, Sebok said.

The cameras cost about $7,000 and were one of several projects in the downtown district that were paid for using better-than-anticipated parking revenue last year. Paperwork for the cameras' installation was still being finalized last week, but the cameras should be up in a month or two, Sebok said.

NASCAR gives way to Pat Boone

The planned Pat Boone Family Theater in Myrtle Beach is transforming the former NASCAR Cafe as it moves toward a planned August debut.

This week, the outside of the former restaurant went from a checkered flag to a magic-inspired mix of green, burgundy and tan. Inside, demolition is done and crews are working on the ceiling, with the floor and stage next on the list, theater marketing director Kelly Burton said.

"It's looking quite a bit different," she said.

No opening date has been set, but the theater, at the corner of U.S. 17 Bypass and 21st Avenue North, aims to have its first shows featuring magician Morgan Strebler in mid-August.

The theater, which announced in January 2010 that it planned to open in Myrtle Beach, ran into delays because of the lagging economy and tight lending environment, officials have said. It announced in May that work was finally starting.

Officials aren't concerned about opening in August and missing most of the busy summer season, saying they plan to lure tour bus crowds and snowbirds during the off-season.

"We obviously would have liked to open sooner," Burton said.

Officials said they are spending $1 million to renovate the building into a 600-seat theater.

While crews have been busy overhauling the venue, the theater's trademark act, Strebler, has been surprising crowds at Hard Rock Cafe and along the beach with impromptu fork bending tricks, aiming to create a hype for the show.

The theater will also house a Boone museum that will feature some of his memorabilia and an Illusions ultra lounge that aims to open in the fall.

Boone - whose singing career started in the 1950s and led to 38 top-10 hits and roles in a dozen movies - plans to attend the grand opening, Burton said. He will perform at the theater 14 days a year, he said.

Boardwalk gets a boost from National Geographic

Myrtle Beach's boardwalk has been getting some new attention from an old list.

With the height of the summer vacation season upon us, National Geographic aimed to help travelers by prominently displaying on its website its 2010 list of the 10 best boardwalks in the country, which includes Myrtle Beach. It also tweeted a link to the list.

"It does have relevance to this year," National Geographic spokesman Marc Lizmi said. "Here's some boardwalks you may want to visit."

Myrtle Beach's year-old boardwalk was listed behind boardwalk staples in Atlantic City, N.J., and Coney Island, but it didn't come in third. The list is just that - a list of the 10 best and not a ranking, Lizmi said. The boardwalks are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of preference, he said.

The magazine said Myrtle Beach's 1.2-mile boardwalk "breathed new life into the Grand Strand beachfront, adding that the walkway is "now the town's hub of activity, with live entertainment each summer evening, including roaming stilt walkers, jugglers, bagpipers and a weekly fireworks display."

The boardwalk debuted in May 2010, with neighboring businesses saying it boosted traffic in the downtown area.

Boardwalks in Ocean City, Md., Venice Beach, Calif., and Virginia Beach, Va., also made the list.

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea liked seeing Myrtle Beach grouped alongside the boardwalk bellwethers in Atlantic City and Coney Island.

"That puts us in very good company," he said.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or dbryant@thesunnews.com.

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