The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is promoting the upcoming Atlantic Beach Bikefest with an unusual message targeting the Memorial Day weekend attendees: have a good time, just don’t break the law.
The three-minute video titled “Know Before you Go” is targeted at bikers to inform them of the increased presence of uniformed and plain-clothes police officers, and to encourage attendees to work with law enforcement to keep everyone safe.
“It’s not the typical Chamber of Commerce message,” says Brad Dean, chamber president.
Multiple shootings during the 2014 event that left three people dead and six others wounded prompted the chamber to release a similar video ad last year urging participants to follow the law, which met with mixed reactions, Dean said.
“Critics said we were trying to scare people off, but we wanted to make clear we welcome everyone who respects the community and follows the law. If you’re not interested, we’d just as soon you go somewhere else,” Dean said.
“That doesn’t make the tourism textbook 101 campaign,” Dean said.
The video features several law enforcement officials from the Myrtle Beach Police Department, as well as Saundra Rhodes, who was still serving as Horry County Police Chief when the video was produced. Rhodes retired last month, and the video was later edited to identify her as the former police chief.
Critics said we were trying to scare people off, but we wanted to make clear we welcome everyone who respects the community and follows the law.
Brad Dean, president, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
Rhodes did not directly address the multiple shootings in 2014, but said “in past years there have been some challenges which have compromised fun and safety for all.”
“To those who plan to visit our community and respect our laws, we welcome you and we want you to have a fun and safe experience,” Rhodes said. “Unfortunately, it only takes a few problems to create an unsafe environment for others.”
The video explains the 23-mile traffic loop that will be in effect during the May 27-29 event, from 10 p.m. through 2 a.m., which is aimed at alleviating traffic on Ocean Boulevard and Kings Highway.
The “Know Before You Go” promotional webpage also advises that 42 license plate readers will be activated throughout Myrtle Beach along with mobile surveillance towers. Noise ordinances will be in force, as well as curfews for everyone younger than 18.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages are illegal in parking areas, and loitering is not permitted.
The Myrtle Beach Police arrested more than 800 people during the 2015 event, which was nearly 300 less than in 2014.