Blogger’s note: Last year on June 6, I wrote a blog, “Motorpsycho-rama too much drama.” What follows is its companion piece and I would respectfully suggest that one reads “Motorpsycho-rama…” to get a better understanding of the point-of-view from which I write. I suggested then that Atlantic Beach, Myrtle Beach and other Grand Strand communites coordinate their schedules and hold a single bike rally earlier in the month of May. My point then, as it is now, was that the Atlantic Beach Bikefest ends on Memorial Day, a time that should be set aside solely for remembering our nation’s fallen military heroes. Grand Strand activity coordinators should be reserving that last week in May for events that honor our war dead.
A month ago I smiled while sitting at the base of sand dunes, staring out over the greenish-blue ocean, and listening to the murmur of the coming storm. Locals are accustomed to the sound and for some, especially business owners, it means spring is about to kick in to full gear. The murmer grew to a roar as outer bands of the storm settled over the coast.
The Harley Davidson riders swept through the Grand Strand for a week and enjoyed all our area has to offer. By most accounts the spring rally went well. There were neither roadway fatalities nor violent crimes associated with it. Sure, there were traffic violations, noise ordinance violations, and some Hog riders who just don’t understand why those orange cones block off side streets leading through residential areas, but the front half of the storm blew over with no lasting damage to the area.
The storm’s eye gave the Grand Strand a brief reprieve from the constant thunder. The tranquility didn’t last more than a day or so until the second-half of the “system” slowly settled over the Strand.
The Atlantic Bikefest ushered in chaos. Yes, there were many well-meaning folks here who rightfully enjoyed themselves in a peaceful manner. The vast majority of participants were well behaved. Then the winds began to howl and there was a series of widely-reported indecent exposure incidents. A couple died when the motorcycle on which they were riding veered into the opposite lane after the bike’s operator allegedly lost control while swerving in and out of traffic. This kind of erratic maneuvering of cycles is prevalent throughout the Atlantic Beach Bikefest. Other fatal accidents followed. Seven people lost there lives in the area before the storm dissipated.
Demographics and defiance. That, largely, is the difference between the separate bike crowds. The Atlantic Bikefest cycle enthusiasts are younger than the Harley Riders in general. Some of the bikefest group visits here with a chip on their shoulders, feeling that Grand Strand locals don’t want them here.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked hard to make them feel that way. A decade ago the NAACP sued Myrtle Beach for using what it believed to be an oppressive, one-way traffic pattern on Ocean Boulevard during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest. In addition, the organization accused the city of policing the two events differently. Since then, the NAACP has made discrimination claims against several area businesses, alleging that restaurant owners closed their properties or changed their business hours during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest.
I’m not saying that racism is non-existent here, but I do wonder where an organization like the NAACP thinks the money is coming from when it sues a municipality. It isn’t fair to hold an entire community responsible for the acts of a few. I reckon that’s what happens when the local branches of a civil rights organizations are run by Reverends who were most likely ordained after sending in three box tops from Captain Crunch breakfast cereals.
A friend and I did a walking tour of downtown Myrtle Beach this Memorial Day and our streets and parking lots were littered with trash. For the record, I didn’t see anyone from the NAACP out picking up trash from the streets that day. I reckon garbage detail isn’t high profile enough for the organization to consider. There’s no prestige in it.
Our town looked like we had just held a ticker tape parade with food wrappers, cans, bottles, cigarette packs and plastic bags having fallen from the sky. Did the Harley Riders leave trash along our roadways when they left town? Sure. But there is no comparison between their indiscretions and those of the Atlantic Bikefest participants. The Memorial Day weekend carnage was awful.
Let me ask you this, friends of all skin colors, is this any way to honor our fallen war heroes? No way. Or to put it as I walked through our litter-strewn Eden: “No f’n way.”
So, for the second year running, I’m calling for all Grand Strand communities to cooperate in the restructuring of our bike weeks. Let’s convince Atlantic Beach to move its festival to early May. My idealized proposal calls for the bike weeks to be held during the same 10-day period. Segregation, after all, ended long ago. Why doesn’t the Grand Strand take the forefront in promoting peace among all races? We could hold the events at the same time, ask neighboring beachside towns to the south to get even more involved, hold peace rallies from one end of Long Bay to the other, and celebrate together. There is no reason this proposal couldn’t work.
Anything is possible if we put our minds to it.