The weight, level of intellect and ego of Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes all were targeted Tuesday night as his friends took the stage to “roast” him in the name of charity.
“Usually when I roast a pig, there’s an apple in his mouth,” Councilman Wayne Gray said.
This is the second year The Salvation Army of Horry County held its “Roast on the Coast” fundraiser, to raise money for the organization’s local programs. Last year the roast targeted former Coastal Carolina University football coach David Bennett.
“We needed a really good target and somebody that we could have fun with,” said Major Bret McElroy with The Salvation Army of why the organization chose Rhodes.
Other roasters on Tuesday included Beach Ball Classic President Stan Parker, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Dean and Billy Huggins, vice president and general manager of WPDE NewsChannel 15.
“There are so many stories you can tell about John, but you can’t tell them … on TV,” Parker said.
Other roasters poked fun at Rhodes’ affinity for strip clubs, which they said he referred to as the “Myrtle Beach ballet” – adding his trips to those clubs took place prior to his marriage in 2009 to long-time girlfriend Terri Springs.
“Trust me, he ain’t listening to Tchaikovsky when he’s getting a lap dance at Derriere’s,” Dean joked.
Rhodes said he’d never been roasted before.
“Not officially,” he said with a laugh.
Rhodes was allowed to handpick the four people who would roast him and made a point to select people from different aspects of his life.
“Billy has known me, probably, longer than anybody who’s roasting me,” Rhodes said Tuesday afternoon before the roast. “I’ve known Wayne all his life and he’s on City Council with me so he can tell some stories about me as mayor.”
He said he’s worked with Parker for 20 years on the Beach Ball Classic and with Dean on building tourism to the Myrtle Beach area.
Rhodes said he wasn’t nervous about being the butt of the night’s jokes and urged the roasters to bring the best material they had.
“I told them, I said, ‘Listen guys, don’t be bashful. Do the job right,’” Rhodes said. “But I get the last say.”
Rhodes said he was glad to be part of an effort to raise money for The Salvation Army.
“It’s all in good fun because it’s a fundraiser for The Salvation Army and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
McElroy said more than 170 people attended the night’s event, raising money for The Salvation Army. Individual tickets for the night’s event, which included dinner, cost $50 and those who chose to sponsor a table paid $1,200.
In addition to operating thrift stores in the county, The Salvation Army also runs a Boys & Girls Club and a Center for Worship and Service, both in Conway.
“All of the dollars raised in Horry (County) stays in Horry,” he said.
McElroy said he hopes to continue the fundraiser annually for the foreseeable future.
“It helps us raise money,” he said. “We have a good time, we have fun. And it helps us meet people and helps people meet us – it lets us tell our story because a lot of people don’t know all that we do.”