MURRELLS INLET -- Scattered across the Grand Strand on Thursday, motorcyclists and vendors brought nearly as many different opinions as they did customized bikes to the second day of The Pilgrimage, fall's smaller cousin to the motorcycle rallies held in May.
Still so early in the week, this year's attendance remained difficult to gauge, but a dour mood prevailed. Tales of empty pockets and dry gas stations on the way abounded - not to mention ill will at Myrtle Beach's new rally-related laws - and what enthusiasm remained was muted and at times defiant.
"I think the crowds are definitely down," said Gary Hegler, who takes his Gary's World Famous Foods stand to 50 events a year, including numerous motorcycle rallies. "Some I can blame on the economy, and some I blame on gas shortages. And with the city ordinances trying to clamp down, that definitely takes some type of toll."
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