In the wake of five shootings in the City of Myrtle Beach over the Memorial Day weekend holiday, in which three people were killed and four injured, many have called for the cancellation of future Atlantic Beach Bikefests.
The City of Atlantic Beach hosts the motorcycle rally each year, but because the event is so large, it cannot be contained to the four-block town and the event spreads out across the Grand Strand, including Myrtle Beach.
Monday, we reached Atlantic Beach town manager William Booker and asked him about calls to cancel Bikefest.
"Unfortunately someone has lost a family member," Booker responded, "but there's no evidence that the people who were involved were bikers or here because of the bike event."
Booker said everyone he spoke to, including the State Law Enforcement Division and Horry County police, were complimentary of the behavior of festival participants in the Town of Atlantic Beach.
The public attention though, is on activities that happened in Myrtle Beach, 13 miles south of Atlantic Beach. A petition on Change.org has 4,000 signatures at the time of this posting. And a facebook page called Myrtle Beach Against Bikefest had 12,600 likes at the time of this posting.
Booker said we were the first to tell him about the petition and the Facebook page.
"Bikefest is an activity that has gone on in Atlantic Beach for 35 years, and there have not been any serious incidents in Atlantic Beach as long as I've known about the event, which is about 5 or 6 years. So once again, to connect those tragic incidents to the Town of Atlantic Beach is inappropriate with absent data to prove that."
Cancelling Bikefest in the future, he said, is not the answer to eliminating the tragedies because bikers are going to come whether Atlantic Beach prepares for them or not.
"It's certainly better to be prepared for something that's going to happen than to not prepare and it happens anyway. So, our position is, we will continue to prepare for Bikefest."
We ha d an interview scheduled for 12:30 today with Atlantic Beach Town Councilwoman Josephine Isom. She canceled the interview a few minutes after it was scheduled to occur. We attempted to reach Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans, but he was not at town hall when we tried to reach him there. We have left a message on his cell phone.