The generation gap and spirit of those attending Atlantic Beach Bikefest is as divided as the miles that separate the event — from the historic neighborhood where it was founded in 1979 near North Myrtle Beach, to modern-day downtown Myrtle Beach.
The return of sunshine had bikers back out by the thousands for the annual Atlantic Beach Bikefest along the Grand Strand. Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, which had been all but abandoned by motorcycle riders Saturday, was full of riders Sunday.
James Arnez of the Black Shepherds Motorcycle Club came to the Atlantic Beach Bikefest to spend time with family and take a break from his hometown of Baltimore, which has been rocked by the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
Thirty-five years ago Atlantic Beach Bikefest started across a few blocks in Atlantic Beach. Now, the annual Memorial Day weekend event spreads miles across Myrtle Beach. While the old-timers prefer the quaint gathering up north, younger crowds are drawn to the party atmosphere of Myrtle Beach. With more restrictions and police as a result of Bikefest's growth, festival goers both young and old react to how bike week has changed.
While many vendors were packing up merchandise and leaving Atlantic Beach on Saturday as Tropical Storm Bonnie was making her entrance, Tarey Thompson was just beginning to break out his wares in anticipation of a booming business.
The rainy weather didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of people who came to celebrate the Atlantic Beach Bikefest. They planned to celebrate regardless of what Mother Nature had in store, but folks were grateful the Tropical Storm Bonnie forecasters predicted was more tame than expected.
"Lou," short for Lucifer at Nightmare Haunted House deviled the crowd that braved the rain on the night of Saturday, May 28, 2016, during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest. He got them nearly every time, bringing screams and laughter to the rainy night.
Many motorcycle enthusiasts attending this weekend’s Atlantic Beach Bikefest are riding out the rain instead of riding bikes Saturday night, as foul weather approaching South Carolina’s coastline developed into Tropical Storm Bonnie.
Many people who live in or around the Grand Strand know Memorial Day weekend is always a high-traffic time. Some visiting families, however, had no idea about the bikes and barricades before booking their vacation.