Atlantic Beach rolls forward with Memorial Day Bike Fest

Atlantic Beach is moving forward with Bike Fest for 2012.

"You haven't been successful for 32 years!" Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn Cole screamed to her fellow members Monday night during a heated discussion on the future of Bike Fest.

For 32 years,the Town of Atlantic Beach has held its annual Memorial Day Atlantic Beach Bike Fest. But for the past month, the town's council and town's residents have considered if their most popular event is profitable enough to continue.

In the end, the motion that passed included moving forward with Bike Fest, but approaching it from the "least minimal cost". Council Member Windy Price says that's up to the town manager to decide. Benny Webb told NewsChannel 15 Thursday at 11:00a.m., he will meet with other Bike Fest stake holders on how to do that in the least expensive way. Town council also plans to discuss Bike Fest again at their next meeting on Tuesday, March 20.

"I was here for the very first Bike Fest. Bike Fest brought us the money that was going other places and communities after integration. We need Bike Fest now more than we needed it then," Councilman Jake Evans said.

Cole and Price, who sit on the town's finance committee, say that the town can't afford Bike Fest this year. The town estimates 250,000 people showed up at last year's rally. Town records show the town made a profit of $18,000.

"I was here last Bike Fest, and I have records we had $52,000 profit. I don't know if someone took it or mismanaged it or misplaced it. Where's the money today? I don't know. I know all the council members have keys to the town hall and maybe half of the citizens too. Maybe that's what the problem is." Evans said.

"Maybe this year the town might make some money" Mayor Pierce said during Monday night's meeting.

The discussion is also tied to a late January announcement that Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson decided to push back the dates of their "Cruisin' the Coast" Bike Rally to include Memorial Day weekend.

Cole said Atlantic Beach was never approached by Myrtle Beach Harley organizers to talk about a change in dates that would overlap the two events.

Atlantic Beach's former town manager, William Booker, has said it's irresponsible to even consider getting rid of the Bike Fest because the entire town depends on that money. Booker says when he ran the event last year the town made $67,000 profit.