A pair of North Myrtle Beach businessmen are trying to do CPR on the image-battered Bike Week and the tourism-dependent local economy by expanding events to Main Street and their own amusement park grounds in North Myrtle Beach.
Plans are a little less ambitious than the freestanding, May 18-22 event that businessmen Harold Worley and Mark Lazarus, respectively current and former Horry County councilmen, originally proposed.
That would have bridged the annual spring Cruisin’ the Coast Rally that the city of Myrtle Beach chased out last year, and the Atlantic Beach Bikefest over Memorial Day weekend.
Cruisin’ the Coast is planned for May 7-16 in the North Myrtle Beach area, with vendors at Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson and Barefoot Landing. The county has not relented from permit limitations enacted last year, so Cruisin’ organizer Mike Shank says he is again limited to 53 vendors.
Worley says the team’s new plan is to host rally events concurrently with Cruisin’ the Coast. They have requested special event permits to accommodate 40 vendors at the amusement park they own, the Ocean Drive Pavilion. New dates are May 11-15, if the local agencies approve the plan.
“The rally started here and moved down to the [Myrtle Beach] convention center” in the ‘60s, he says. He plans to talk to the Horry County Public Safety Commission next week about aligning dates for vendors on county land, and is scheduled to take the plan before the North Myrtle Beach City Council Feb. 1.
“If the city approves it, we are going to give it a try this year. What we’ve asked for is ‘give us one year,’” Worley said. But he adds optimistically that the date change this year would mean the North Myrtle Beach events would run for five days ending on the third weekend in May for the next nine years.
Shank says his involvement with the Worley and Lazarus is “trying to be a liaison with Harley-Davidson and seeing if they would attend and bring their demo fleet to North Myrtle Beach.”
H-D has not made a commitment, spokesman Bob Klein says. “This is a dealer event and we are still determining our level of involvement,” he says. “In past years, the Motor Company has had product displays and demo rides at the event. HOG has also held one of its pin stops at the event.”
Last year’s political maneuvers put a dent in rally attendance in a year when many business owners questioned the wisdom of turning away tourism.
“The rallies are not what they have been in years past,” Worley says. We’d like to have one, good, five-day rally.”
Worley and Lazarus have also pitched the plan to the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, among a slate of events – including a car show, bicycle race and concert series -- they hope will revive business in the area and extend the tourism season. The Chamber of Commerce is gauging support in the local business community.
“We obviously took it under advisement. This is a huge, emotional thing throughout the Grand Strand, with the biker issue. Every time it comes up it creates controversy,” said Mark Jordan, executive director of the North Myrtle Beach chamber. “We’re doing several surveys. We are looking at the existing ordinances, to see if they would even allow this kind of events and festivals to be held on Main Street, and if not, what would have to be changed.”
The chamber will also poll its membership to gauge support for a bike rally, he said.