For the life of me, I never understood why I’ve never been able to catch all the people having sex on the streets of Myrtle Beach during Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest.
And why I always miss the thousands of young dudes flashing guns and robbing people.
I’ve missed all of that even though every year I make it my mission to take in as many hours of Bikefest I can stand in as many of the hot spots as possible. (Full disclosure: I’m not a Bikefest fan. I’m too old and fogey. I think it’s one big, boring street party.)
This year, I visited Atlantic Beach multiple times, drove up and down the beach for hours - sometimes purposefully sitting in heavy traffic - and spent a considerable amount of time on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach in the afternoon, evening, late night and early morning.
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That’s in addition to the hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews I’ve done the past two decades with city and county and law enforcement officials; small business owners who love Bikefest and those who hate it; irate residents and those perplexed by the controversy; bikers and non-biker Bikefest participants; and countless hours pouring over archives about the event’s origins and evolution.
Despite all of that, I still couldn’t find the chaotic debauchery so many insist is endemic to Bikefest.
I saw no public sex - at all - but did see a small group of black Bikefest attendees walk up to an elderly, homeless white woman near 9th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard late Friday night. For some strange reason, they neither robbed nor tried to have public sex with her. Instead, they gave her a few dollars and shook her hand.
A reader clued me as to why I don’t see the End of Days event others swear happens every Memorial Day weekend, telling me directly what many others have been strongly implying:
“Issac, I greatly like and respect you, however I am convinced due to being an African-American you must be living with your blinders on.”
In other words, only white people can objectively assess an event involving predominantly black people.
Or maybe black people who agree with the majority can as well.
Or that “respect” can be extended to folks like me only when I confirm what certain readers want confirmed.
Or maybe there’s another explanation, that it is that reader, and others of like mind, who’ve suspended all sense of logic because it’s easier than digesting facts.
Not one thing that happened this past weekend is unique to Bikefest.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said Bikefest was “somewhat safer” this year.
Does that mean Myrtle Beach was safer during Memorial Day weekend than it was in March, given that this past weekend ended with one person injured in a shooting at a hotel while in March the city recorded two murders in a single hotel incident?
Remember: the violence that occurred during Memorial Day weekend 2014 was the anomaly, not the rule, of the 35-year-old event.
What about the automobile wrecks that clogged some of the area’s main arteries?
The ones during Bikefest? Or the ones on U.S. 17 Bypass before Bikefest that turned my usual 20-minute drive home into a more than hour-long trip?
What about bikers breaking traffic laws? The guys on high-powered bikers weaving between cars this past weekend?
Or the few dozen bikers who became their own traffic cops, stopping all vehicles at a stoplight until all the motorcycles in their group had passed.
That happened weeks ago on Harrelson Boulevard as I was driving my kids home from the barbershop.
Some businesses did poorly while others did well, but an undetermined number of dollars - in the millions - were poured into the area.
Which summer weekend is that not the case?
Before this weekend, I cautioned people to not push rumors and myth, to focus on the problems - and the solutions - without resorting to misleading hyperbole.
Seems that not everyone took my advice.
Or am I just saying that because I have my black people blinders on?