My family and I are frequent visitors to the Grand Strand throughout the year, personally I have vacationed in the area for over 40 years. While I have been to Myrtle Beach during other bike rallies, nothing prepared me for the unchecked and seemingly unregulated mayhem of Memorial Day weekend.
We keep our RV in storage at a campground near the Surfside-Myrtle Beach line. On Saturday we attempted to make our way from that campground to Broadway at the Beach. Our trip took more than two hours and what we witnessed was repeated violation of several highway laws, and obscenities.
Besides the constant barrage of what I can only call hate-related and profane music, were the hundreds of motorcycles driving between lanes of traffic, running stop lights and blocking traffic repeatedly. There was no regard for their own safety much less the safety of my wife and son, who were in the car with me. Even the folks on rental mopeds were emulating these groups and following along in an unsafe manner.
At one point, when I noticed no police at all along Business 17 where many of these groups were holding court, we called 911 from our car to ask if there were any police around to help cite these folks and free up the roads.
The person on the other side indicated that they had everyone on duty, but could do little to nothing to help due to the number of violators and lack of police. By the end of that day, headlines were made with three dead and multiple injuries in shootings. It’s well past time someone did something to unwelcome this element annually into your city. These folks do not contribute substantially to the tourism dollars of your city and make a mockery of any attempt to behave in a civilized manner. They do however cause havoc and continue to develop a worldwide reputation that Myrtle Beach residents and unsuspecting tourists are left to fend for themselves the first weeks of summer.
I am writing you to let you know people will not only avoid your city during these rallies but may begin to avoid the city other times of the year if laws are not being followed and gangs are allowed to fight and disregard the laws like a band of raping and plundering Vikings.
Based on the YouTube footage taken at the scene of the shootings it appears police were not equipped to handle the escalating violence, I fear in another year or two if this rally is left unchecked, we will be seeing the National Guard having to be called in to protect citizens and their property.
I believe this year should be the last for these types of gatherings. I know an attempt was made to modify the helmet laws (I still am amazed South Carolina allows bikers to wear no head protection while motorists must buckle up), however, maybe an effort could be made to disallow cyclists to ride in groups of more than four to six, otherwise consider it unlawful assembly. Also, perhaps infractions could be doubled or quadrupled during these heavy traffic times (similar to speeding in a work area).
These are just a few things I thought about on my drive away from the beach yesterday. I can tell your merchants that I had planned a few activities on Sunday and Monday, to go shopping, take in some entertainment, eat and play Putt Putt with my family. But after what I experienced Saturday, I did not leave the campground at all either Sunday or Monday and infused zero additional dollars into the Grand Strand economy.
Now simply put, I could just stay away from the beach during these motorcycle rallies, but there is no reason for thugs to take over a city anytime, much less the beginning of summer when families want to get away. Maybe I should start to find a safer place to vacation and weekend with my family and move my RV to that beach and stay away from Myrtle Beach year round. I don’t want to do that, but if the city and state officials can’t assure my family is safe year round in Myrtle Beach, then I will have no other option.
The writer lives in Charlotte, N.C.