Bikers to Myrtle Beach, 'screw you, we're still coming.'

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In this economy, you'd think a city like Myrtle Beach would be welcoming a known cash cow, but the city has pulled up the welcome mat for bikers.

It doesn't matter, though, because many still hit the beach for the annual Harley Davidson rally.

However, rules have changed and businesses are reporting a 50 percent drop off in people coming in. That really sucks when across the country, people are struggling to keep their businesses open.

Horry County has imposed a seven-day limit on vendor permits this year, but vendors at Barefoot Landing, which is inside North Myrtle Beach, got their permits from that city, which allowed vending the same as last year.

Business at Barefoot Landing is lagging this year, said Sonny Morabito, an employee of Xtreme Customs & Cycles. The crowd that usually appears on the first weekend was smaller this year.

"I would say our business is at least half off," he said. "We'll be back next year. I ain't going to let it stop us."

Since the shooting death of a Coastal Carolina student during the Atlantic Beach Bike Rally, Myrtle Beach officials have been trying to stop bikers from taking over the tourist trap during the month of May.

North Mytrle Beach may be welcoming to riders, but the same can't be said for Myrtle Beach.

North Myrtle Beach officials said the city has been conducting business as usual during the first of two May motorcycle rallies.

"The bikers are just like any other tourists," said Mayor Marilyn Hatley. "We're expecting people to come and abide by the laws and enjoy themselves."

The Harley-Davidson Cruisin' the Coast rally kicked off Friday and lasts until Saturday, and the Atlantic Beach Bikefest runs over Memorial Day weekend.

"We haven't changed," Hatley said. "We're going to respect the bikers, and we expect the bikers to respect us and treat our community just like they would treat their own."

The city's chamber of commerce sent out a message to its visitors' database of about 90,000 people, saying all visitors would continue to be welcomed in North Myrtle Beach as long as they obey the city's rules and laws, said Marc Jordan, president and CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. The message was in response to early debates generated by new ordinances in Myrtle Beach and Horry County, and several calls the North Myrtle Beach chamber received from long-time May visitors, Jordan said.

You have to wonder, though, why do these bikers feel so compelled to spend their money in a place that obviously doesn't want it.


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