It was a night of reminiscing at the Surfside Beach Library, where the town kicked off a series of events to celebrate 50 years since its incorporation in 1964.
A ceremony Friday night was the first anniversary event of the year. The next event will be in May.
Current and former residents who helped the town develop since its incorporation on March 14, 1964 were honored and given a historical picture book designed by Stephanie Spratt, a former Horry-Georgetown Technical College student.
“Surfside Beach is a great place to live,” said Mayor Doug Samples. “It’s a great place to raise children. But, most of all its a great place to call home.”
Attendees of the ceremony all agreed with the mayor about their love for the town.
Henry Meeks, one of the town’s earliest police chiefs, was head of the department for 16 years starting in 1974. Meeks still lives in town, because “There ain’t no better place to live,” he said.
Meeks said the police department operated on a small budget during his tenure and had only five officers and two patrol cars. The staff has quadrupled since, with 21 full-time sworn officers including the chief, command staff, evidence custodian and detectives.
Rutilla Ford was born in Aynor and lived on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach for while before she and her husband moved to Surfside Beach. She said she told her husband they were either going to move to Aynor or set up a home in the woods. They ended up surrounded by woods on Sparrow Drive in Surfside Beach 58 years ago.
Ford, 78, said Friday that she hopes to live out her life in Surfside Beach, and wouldn’t know how to begin packing if she ever left, having only moved three times in her life.
Howard Barnard addressed the crowd during the ceremony Friday. He and his wife Connie purchased their home on the second row in from the beach in the 1980s while he was stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base for $115,000. Barnard said he remembers telling his wife they were wasting their money, but now wishes he had purchased more homes in Surfside Beach.
He said he was told when he first arrived in Myrtle Beach that once his toes got in the sand he could never look back.
“We found we never wanted to leave,” Barnard said. “And we were anxious to come back if we did.”