2013 a milestone year in Myrtle Beach, group hopes for growth

akelley@thesunnews.comDecember 31, 2012 

— In Myrtle Beach, 2013 is a big anniversary – 75 years – sure to be celebrated all year long, but one group hopes the New Year brings growth.

For Chris Walker, president of the Oceanfront Merchants Association, there hopefully will be more events in downtown Myrtle Beach.

The OMA puts on events for St. Patrick’s Day and in October for Oktoberfest. But, he said they’d like to see more, especially during the offseason, perhaps even celebrations heading into New Year’s Eve next year.

The city’s official anniversary is March 12. Events are in the works for a year long celebration, according to city officials, but specific details and dates have not been released.

During the year the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base also will reach a benchmark of its own marking the 20th year since the base closed. A reunion is planned for April, which nearly 300 people are expected to attend.As for the OMA, which formed in 2006 after the Pavilion Amusement Park closed, an expansion of its membership could come in 2013.The Pavilion, which was located near Ninth Avenue North between Ocean Boulevard and Kings Highway, was a hub in the city’s downtown for nearly 60 years. When the Pavilion closed, Walker said business downtown spiraled, bringing the merchants together in an effort to revitalize the area.

The association’s membership includes merchants from 7th Avenue North to 14th Avenue North, but it is considering expanding the boundaries to include new development along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk to lure even more business back to the oceanfront strip.

“I came here because of how electric the area was [downtown] and stayed because of how much fun it was,” Walker said of taking his first summer job in 1988. He came from a small town in Indiana.

“Myrtle Beach, I felt, was a lot like a small town in Indiana but had all the excitement of a big city,” he said.

But, times weren’t always good, especially after the Pavilion closed. Walker said it’s an exciting in downtown Myrtle Beach again.

“To see it on the swing back now that I’ve got kids that can enjoy the area is exciting,” he said. “We’re working hard to make it what it was in everyone’s memories – good family fun.”

Also celebrated in 2013 will be 75 years of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce which opened in 1938. Activities and tributes are being planned, but the chamber is also asking community members to share defining moments in the Grand Strand History for a list of 75 memories shared on their website at www.myrtlebeachareachamber.com/75years.

And Murrells Inlet also hits a milestone –100 years since its name was made official by the U.S. Post Office.

No new events are listed on the Murells Inlet 2020 website, but the Jetty View Walk is expected to open this year. Similar to the Marsh Walk, the new walkway is on the south end of Murrells Inlet connecting behind the Hot Fish Club, Captain Poo’s and Nance’s Creekfront Restaurant.

For those keeping count, 2014 is also a big year for a couple towns – Aynor turns 100 and Surfside Beach turns 50.

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.

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