Can Bikefest just be cancelled?
Wed, 28 May 2014 22:31:48 GMT —
Many in the Grand Strand community say the solution to the problems associated with Bikefest is to cancel the event.
But local officials say that's easier said than done.
"The reality is, you can't cancel it, the people are going to come," said former Myrtle Beach mayor Mark McBride.
When McBride was mayor in the late 1990s, he says he got other cities to send hundreds of their officers to help police Bikefest.
He says there are fewer outside officers for Bikefest today, though the event has gotten bigger.
"In 1999, we ended up with over 600 officers and now we only have 400," he said.
McBride says the solution today should include a change in leadership in the city, and more police officers.
One problem, he says, is Myrtle Beach's location.
"Florence is an hour away. Wilmington is an hour away, that's in a different state. Charleston's an hour-and-a-half away. There's no one to help us."
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce president Brad Dean says Atlanta managed to stop the Freaknik festivals of the 90s by deploying thousands of police officers.
The Grand Strand only has a few hundred.
"We need a few thousand and we need to allow them to do their job and enforce all the laws on the books," said Dean.
Dean agrees with McBride that simply trying to cancel the event won't work.
The solution Dean says will require a partnership between residents, businesses, cities and maybe a change in state law.
Also, he said there should be a clear alert to those who come to Bikefest with the wrong intentions.
"We need to turn them away with a message that if you're coming to the Myrtle Beach area, we expect you to follow our laws and if not, we just as soon you stay away."
McBride famously asked the governor to send in the National Guard during one bike event and was turned down.
When asked about the National Guard, Dean said, "I don't think we can say no to any reasonable solution. In the past, we've tried to minimize this and control it, but this event is overwhelming our community, it's out of control. We need to overwhelm the criminals and take back our streets over Memorial Day weekend."