The Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park, approaching 60 years old, doesn't snap into gear as quickly as it used to.
Several rides during the 58-year-old park's "Farewell Season'' have been out of service since the park opened for weekends March 17.
Typed signs taped to the ticket booths have let park-goers know that some of their favorite rides - The Rainbow, the Tilt-a-Whirl and others, aren't operating. The historic pipe organ isn't starting up until next weekend, either.
Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., which owns the Pavilion, says the company has had trouble getting the unique parts to keep the old rides going. All the rides should be ready by next weekend when the Pavilion switches to a weeklong summer schedule, B & C spokesman Pat Dowling said.
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"It's hard to get [the parts], and we are not going to run them if we are not 100 percent sure it is safe, '' he said. "When the season starts, they should be up.''
Some who have seen the frequent "rides closed'' signs speculate that B & C is just letting the park go because it's closing for good this fall anyway.
"That's not true. It really isn't, '' Dowling said. "Some of the rides down there are old. You can't call up Lowe's and get the part. ... That's not the way we want to be remembered.''
B & C hasn't yet announced what it will do with the rides once the park closes. Some of the rides, including the pipe organ and Herschell-Spillman carousel, are about a century old and worth a pretty penny.
Some businesses from outside the area have approached B & C about buying some of the rides. The "going out of business'' sale hasn't started yet, Dowling said.
B & C could keep the rides and move them to one of the company's many other Myrtle Beach properties, including Broadway at the Beach and NASCAR SpeedPark, or set several of them up elsewhere.
Irish eyes on S.C. tourism
Nine tourism leaders from South Carolina spent last week in Ireland picking up tips on how to grow and better manage the industry here.
Ireland, you say? Sounds farfetched, for sure. But South Carolina has hired Ireland's Michael MacNulty, who has a Dublin-based tourism consulting business, to help the state create a tourism cluster.
State leaders including Gov. Mark Sanford are pushing for the formation of several clusters, which group related businesses together by industry to create a synergy.
MacNulty has been meeting with tourism folks from across the state, including several along the Grand Strand.
Each participant in last week's trip will pick up his or her tab. The Grand Strand had one representative, Mickey McCamish, president of marketing group Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. The state will pay for two participants from the S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism department, director Chad Prosser and Amy Duffy. Trip costs haven't yet been added up. The group left May 13 and returned Friday.
The cluster committee also plans to visit tourism promoters in Tallahassee, Fla., in June.
The cluster report is expected to be released in about a month.
Huntington gets award
Huntington Beach State Park has won the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Regional Director's Conservation Award.
The 2,500-acre park, off U.S. 17 in Murrells Inlet, was recognized for more than a half-dozen efforts to manage and conserve the environment.
The projects include protecting sea turtle nests, creating a new shorebird nesting area, reintroducing the threatened seabeach amaranth plants, placing recycled oyster shells back into the salt marsh and re-establishing natural seawater flow to Sandpiper Pond, a 35- acre wetland just off the beach.
About 1 million people visit Huntington Beach each year.