Hopefully the departure of Tom Rice as Chairman of the Horry County Council will benefit motorcycle riders on the Grand Strand. Rice, who moved on after being elected to Congress, was the face and mouth of the anti-rally group “Take Back May” who went so far as to host a BBQ lunch thanking Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes for his efforts to run motorcycle tourism out of the city. I have long suspected Rice is merely a pawn and front man for area hoteliers and golf course owners aiming to change the reputation Myrtle Beach has as “The Redneck Riviera”, but a leopard can’t change its spots.
Knowing us who ride motorcycles were discriminated against by the Evil Empire, I could not help myself from taking great joy at the premiere of TLC Network’s “Welcome to Myrtle Manor” television show (at 10 p.m. Sundays), which depicts the city as a haven for roach-infested trailer homes inhabited by every negative, southern stereotype imaginable. The icing on the cake was the recent coedmagazine.com survey that ranked Myrtle Beach the 4th trashiest spring break destination in the U.S. (up from No. 5 last year). Rice got out just in time, but the departure left Horry County Council Chair position up for grabs.
The special election to fill the vacancy held on March 12 resulted in a runoff between the two most popular choices because none of the five candidates received the more than the 50 percent support required to secure the position. The runoff election is scheduled for March 26 between the top two vote getters. Local businessman Mark Lazarus led the race with 5,534 votes. Lazarus is the owner of Wild, Water and Wheels amusement park in Surfside Beach and is a former Horry County councilman. Finishing in second with 3,319 votes was Al Allen, councilman for Aynor’s District 11. Allen is a commercial pilot and local pastor; a former police officer and a reserve deputy sheriff and concealed weapons permit instructor; and a former Emergency Medical Technician and Rescue Squad member. Both men are married and have children.
More significant to us though: Allen rides a motorcycle and does not discriminate against those who do. In a phone interview I asked Allen for his take on the local bike rallies and he was quick to say, “If you check history, when Tom Rice and Councilman Price tried to cut out vendors, I opposed it.” He explained, “You can’t alienate people. We are a tourist town and the bikers are tourists. We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. What we need is good law enforcement: To target those who are causing the problems and to leave the rest alone.” He closed our call by acknowledging “I am going to need some more help [in the form of votes at the runoff polls]”. Allen picked up on the second ring and was very friendly.
When I called Lazarus, I ended up getting his voice mail box. I followed the voicemail up with a text message and also submitted a request for a return call via his campaign Web site, but none were immediately returned. I was careful to disclose to both men that I write a motorcycle column and to phrase my question to both candidates identically, telling each “I write a motorcycle column and would like to hear your thoughts regarding Bike Week.” In my text to Lazarus I added that I spoke to Allen and that I wanted to give them an equal chance to be heard. That was three days ago.
I am urging all of you to please make it a point to get to the polls on March 26 to help protect what we have left of the rallies along the Grand Strand by electing a County Council Chairman who gets it.
Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson is holding its 3rd annual Biker Bluegrass Festival at the dealership at 4710 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach on March 23 with games and food all day. There will also be a bike show (register at 10 a.m. to enter) and live bluegrass music from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 369-5555 for more information.
Suck Bang Blow’s original location at 3393 U.S. 17 Business is hosting its 2nd Annual Rockabilly Rumble March 29-31. The 3-day event will include contests, Hot Rod cars and motorcycles, and live rockabilly music.
The 23rd annual Bunny Run hosted by Dick Martin Custom Cycles & Danny Lee’s Place in Socastee will take place Easter Sunday, March 31. The event will open at Danny Lee’s Place, 4501 Socastee Blvd., with a free breakfast (while it lasts) beginning at 10 a.m. The ride pulls out at “approximately noon 30” according to a flyer. For more information, call 293-6241.