Myrtle Beach Bike Week, which for years was one of the six major biker rallies of the summer, began today. Realistic local businessmen expect the event may attract as many as 125,000 bikers.
The event is the nation’s fourth oldest biker rally. The annual rally in Laconia began in 1916 and became a stop on the official Gypsy Tour recognized by the forerunner of the American Motorcyclist Association in 1923. The rally in Daytona dates to 1937. The Black Hills Rally in Sturgis began in 1938. Myrtle Beach dates to 1940.
The Myrtle Beach Rally was basically finished after the city of Myrtle Beach passed a series of draconian laws in 2008 that were intended to discriminate against bikers and drive them away. Those laws included ordinances that declared motorcycle rallies to be nuisances and authorized the police to sue to recover any costs they might incur as a result of those nuisances. Other ordinances held rally sponsors liable for the costs of arresting and jailing attendees; a law that made it illegal to loiter in a city park; a Myrtle Beach only helmet law that required those helmets to be provably DOT certified; a law that required Harley exhausts to be quiet as sleeping babies; a law that effectively made local cops judges; and another law that required all convenience stores to hire security guards. The most annoying of those was the helmet law. The South Carolina Supreme Court overturned all these laws after the 2010 rally that basically wasn’t.
Local television station WBTW ran a story last week that hoped “this may be the largest bike week since 2008.”
The station quoted Mike Foster, owner of the Crooked Floor Tavern, who said he was “really excited about the spring rally. We’ve got vendors coming in. We’ve got like seven or eight different vendors. We’ve also got entertainment.”
Several South Carolina news outlets have quoted Bill Barber who is the manager of a biker bar and barbeque joint called Suck Bang Blow. Barber’s bar needs the rally business and he is optimistic. He told WBTW he was “anticipating this to be the best rally we’ve had since the early 2000s.”
He told the Sun News he thinks as many as 300,000 bikers may come to town for this year’s event. The rally had 400,000 visitors in 2008. “Our phones have been ringing off the wall,” he told the local paper. “Our Facebook went nuts.”
The rally officially ends next Sunday.