There’s too much Memorial Day drama in our motorpsycho-rama.
It’s time to move the Atlantic Beach Bikefest to mid-May to coincide with the Harley Davidson spring rally.
In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, the Grand Strand was rife with highway fatalities, robberies, shootings and stabbings — as reported in our local paper, The Tidal Eyechart. Most of the mayhem — which also includes traffic congestion and excessive noise — is a byproduct of our annual, three-week motorpsycho-rama.
Harley-Davidson enthusiasts come to the Grand Strand for a rally in the second week of May, while the Atlantic Beach Bikefest takes place in the week prior to Memorial Day. A lot of money is infused into the local economy during that span.
Attendees of the Harley rally are predominantly white; attendees of the Atlantic Beach festival are predominantly black. Why would a blog writer make the color distinction? Thanks for asking. Here’s the dharma — a little truth, man, some information.
Atlantic Beach (AB) was established in the 1930s as an oceanfront haven for blacks, who were denied access to other area beaches by segregationists. The Black Pearl, as AB came to be known, encompasses a four-square-block area. To this day, only 250 or so people live there.
The town eventually hosted a bike festival to boost its coffers. As the event grew, its attendees spilled into surrounding communities — primarily Myrtle Beach. Here’s where things get even more sensitive, so I’ll just spit it out.
There’s more, uh, trouble during bikefest than during the Harley rally. More crime. More late night/early morning noise. More pollution left on the ground afterwards.
Hey, man, let me explain something. I’m pretty cool, racially. I hate the N-word. I think segregation was an embarrassing blemish on our country’s history, and I rue the pain and humiliation that racism has caused African-Americans. Racism has also led to lack of opportunity among the black community. Nobody should ever be judged by his or her skin color.
The trouble of which I wrote has a lot to do with age. The bikefest attendees are younger than those who come for the Harley event. As has always been the case with younger generations, there’s a lot of rebellion against the establishment. To be fair, there’s still a lot to rebel against. Racism hasn’t gone away down here.
The Harley group isn’t perfect, either. There’s a lot of indecency. Some fighting. Bikers revving their engines at three in the morning. I’m not positive about this, but I think there are normally more highway fatalities during Harley week.
I’ve digressed. Between the spring Harley rally and bikefest, hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts attend motorpsycho-rama every year, making business owners and local chambers of commerce very happy. Many small hotel and restaurant owners claim they wouldn’t survive without it.
So, we locals are expected to put up with a little violence and inconvenience in May. We’re not supposed to mind.
I do mind. The beach bum minds. This aggression will not stand, man. Here’s why:
As a newspaper reporter in my past life, I covered small town Memorial Day services in central Pennsylvania, primarily in Snyder and Union counties. Upon being assigned to do so, I was always a bit miffed at having to work another holiday. Then I would go to the ceremonies, grab a program, snap a few pictures, and hate myself for ever having been so selfish.
The events commemorating our fallen soldiers reminded me of the sacrifices of true heroes, and the playing of taps always left me with a lump in my throat and a tear or two welling in my eyes. We can’t honor our soldiers enough. I saw a sticker at a friend’s house the other day that read, “Land of the free, Because of the brave.” Sort of says it all, doesn’t it?
So, let’s combine the two biker rallies. Afterall, segregation ended long ago. Move the AB event to mid-May. We owe it to those who have died for our country. We owe it to those serving in the military now.