The unfortunate events that occurred in Myrtle Beach over the Memorial Day weekend (fights, shootings and general rude behavior) have been wrongfully attributed to the Bikefest participants by our citizens, our local "leaders," by the always misguided Chamber of Commerce and as of May 30, our hysterical Governor Nikki Haley who all immediately decided that the Bikefest activities must be banned in order to restore peace and order.
Fact is an overwhelming majority of the BikeFest participants are decent human beings who spent their time and money here in Myrtle Beach without incident. As with any accumulation of people in large numbers that gather together for any reason there will be those amongst us who are either looking for trouble or are ready to be ignited if provoked .
The difference that stands out between the Harley rally and Bikefest is the general age, pure and simple. While the Harley riders are generally a 40- to 55-year-old crowd, those who are drawn to Bikefest itself and those who are here because of Bikefest generally are people 30 years old and younger with a large portion of the participants being under 25 years old.
Sadly, unlike 40 years ago when a dispute prompted a few fists being thrown, these days more people than one would like are packing artillery and more often than we would like, those weapons are being drawn and used.
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The rude and threatening behavior in some local businesses, the fights and the shootings are all symptomatic of a lawless attitude of some (not all) of our youths and is not caused by the Bikefest and will not be corrected by banning such an activity. Will a larger police presence be the answer? I'm not sure. A curfew has been mentioned yet it would seem difficult to enforce without being committed to throwing lots of people in jail for violating it (talk about not tourist-friendly).
Truth is we promote and promote the Grand Strand and then whine and complain when the masses get too large and out of control. Our leaders however need to spend some time contemplating the nuances of this matter before spouting off demands for banishment of what may not actually be the problem.
The writer lives in Garden City