The mayor of Myrtle Beach is up for a roast, especially to, in a bigger picture, help salute the Salvation Army of Horry County for all of its service to the community.
John Rhodes will take the big seat Tuesday at the Salvation Army’s 2013 “Roast on the Coast,” at 7 p.m. at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, 9000 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach.
In a interview last month, the mayor, completing his second four-year term this year, didn’t utter one iota of nerves or trepidation about taking on this extracurricular task. After recovering from surgery this past winter to repair an aneurysm his brain, a roast might come across as a day at the beach for him.
Question | How special a community player and MVP is The Salvation Army, not only nationally, but right here across Horry County?
Answer | They’ve done a very good job in town, especially with the angel trees at Christmas. I’ve always been a big supporter of that. The Salvation Army is one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in the country. The things they try to do and are able to do to help and improve things for people: They do a great job, especially in today’s times, with the economy like it is. All nonprofit organizations are having to try to come up with some new ideas to get people excited and make increased awareness for contributions in fundraising. It’s something that’s going to be going on forever.
They are able to be of those organizations that serve the needs of the people. They’ve always been recognized with angel trees, ringing the bell with the pots, and I think, with publicity from movies, especially Christmas movies ... even “Trading Places,” with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd putting some money in the pot.
Q. | What memorable efforts and programs stick out most for you, as an observer or participant, in Salvation Army causes?
A. | The Angel Tree ... means a lot. ... It begins the time of year when you get more sentimental about a project being done. ... It’s helping to put a smile on some young kid’s face at Christmas.
Q. | With spring in the air, and the winter snowbird season making the transition to the shoulder season, en route to the busy summer, what goes through your blood as excitement brews for Myrtle Beach taking its place, front and center in the sun?
A. | This year’s going to be exciting. Not only are we celebrating our 75th anniversary as a city, there’s several anniversaries going on in the city this year. The Bowery is 70 years old, and Alabama [started] out their 40th anniversary tour here. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the baseball stadium have hit 15 years. I will have been in Myrtle Beach for 50 years, and I will turn 70 this year.
Q. | Outside the mayor’s office, and simply as a citizen, what positives in this community, which might go unheard of or not noticed enough, make you beam and smile, inside and out?
A. | I think I’d have to say I look back and see the changes that have been made from the time I came here in 1963 that were very exciting that enticed me want to stay here and live here. You see growth and progress made. Our functions have not changed, and that direction has been to welcome tourists.
I like the things we’ve done to help move forward in different directions of tourism, whether it was to our families on the beach ... sports tourism, and course, in between golf and sports, shopping tourism, which started with Waccamaw Pottery. ... It’s the different tentacles of tourism we have accomplished, and overall production to make us a tourism resort. I’m not sure if it’s ever complete. ...
It’s all those pieces of the puzzle. When you put those together, that has taken us from a small beach community to one of the top resort destinations in our country, and this has taken place in 75 years. We’re always looking for new things ... for what is the new thing that we reach out and grab a hold of.
Q. | With the various TV shows with, by and about Myrtle Beach residents, including “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,’ “Shipping Wars” and “Equitrekking,” what does Myrtle Beach getting out in a national spotlight so regularly mark for the city?
A. | We’ve also had two people from the Grand Strand on TV a long time: Vanna White and Nancy O’Dell. ... It goes back to the good name Myrtle Beach should get.
Q. | How’d do you happen upon this honor for this roast?
A. | They were looking for a sucker – I don’t know. They called and asked if I’d be willing to do it. I’m happy to do anything to help in their fundraising.
Q. | For such a roast, what little tidbit about you might the roastgoers be most surprised and impressed by?
A. | It might be interesting. I’ve told the roasters: Go for it, and don’t hold back. It’s all in the fun and all about entertainment. If you hold back, then you won’t be able to entertain the people who pay them. ... Sometimes you have to be like a pincushion; you have to be able to handle them. It’s all in promotion. We do it all in fun, and have a good time. It’s something I was doing even before I was mayor.