Bike Fest extension surprises surrounding police departments

The announcement from Atlantic Beach town council Tuesday to extend its annual bike festival to May 18th through May 28th came unexpectedly to the police departments who help patrol the event.

North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said North Myrtle Beach public safety officers recently spoke with the Atlantic Beach police department and were told the event had not changed and would stay the same.

"This came as a surprise to us, and we would have preferred that they would have asked for our input," said Dowling. "Purely on a public safety point of view, it may or may not mean we have to spend more money policing the event. We just have to see if there is an increase in numbers."

"We have to make sure the festival doesn't have a negative impact on our town and traffic," said Dowling. "By having a few events in town(Atlantic Beach), they pushed the burden of entertainment on surrounding towns."

Dowling said North Myrtle Beach already has events scheduled for the May 20th weekend that will block city streets.

"We have the Diva Run that weekend that will block off streets along Ocean Boulevard and parts of Highway 17."

While the festival has the potential to cause problems for North Myrtle Beach, Dowling does not expect many people to show up for the first weekend.

He said most of the Bike Fest crowd visits because of the Memorial Day Holiday.

Horry County Police also assist during Bike Fest.

Sergeant Robert Kegler said the county is sticking to the plan they had in place before the announcement.

"We are to police the way we always do," said Kegler. "Our daily operations will be the same as we always do. We have officers that patrol there everyday."

Lance Corporal Sonny Collins with South Carolina Highway Patrol told NewsChannel 15 on Tuesday Highway Patrol is aware of the change and will evaluate if the department will make adjustments to how it covers this year's Bike Fest.