Don’t expect any major operational changes during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest this Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s the status quo,” said Horry County police Chief Joe Hill. “We’re kind of using the template the worked very well last year, and we’re just going to replicate that.”
During Horry County’s Bikefest Task Force meeting on Tuesday, officials from every department in attendance said they were preparing to execute their plans the same way as last year.
“We’ve kind of got it down to a science,” said Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster.
The 23-mile one-way traffic loop will also remain the same as last year, and will be implemented between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday, if needed.
“As you recall last year, even on Sunday evening, there was no need for the traffic loop to be put in place, so we didn’t implement it,” said Myrtle Beach police Capt. Joey Crosby.
Crosby said right now, around 470 officers from around South Carolina and Georgia are planning on helping out during the weekend. But he said that could change if other commitments get in the way for some of the officers.
Officials said there’s no way to accurately measure how many people in town are here for bikefest or a different event, like the Sun Belt baseball championship at Coastal Carolina University that weekend.
“Earlier we got a report that the major hotels on the beach are at 90 percent capacity, which is more occupied than they were in years past,” Hill said. “So all indications are that it’s going to be a very popular weekend because CCU has got that baseball event going on as well. So we don’t know what’s causing the occupancy rate to be so high, so quick.”
Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster said they expect hundreds of thousand of people to visit the area over Memorial Day weekend, but they don’t know which attractions are responsible.
“I think when you look at that weekend overall, overall it’s hundreds of thousands in the community,” Webster said. “Now who all those are and why they’re here are different reasons [for] different people.”
While Chief Hill said occupancy rates are higher than normal this year, the Bikefest crowd has been shrinking over the past several years.
“We look at the crowds over the previous years to determine what our resources will be,” Crosby said. “Last year, we certainly saw a visual trend that there were not as many people here.”
That could be due to the weather though. Last year, a big rain storm doused Myrtle Beach over the weekend, forcing the bikers to shelter in their hotel rooms, or leave early.
“There’s no way of really knowing,” Webster said of the Bikefest crowd size. “But I know it seemed to be lower than years past, and that could have been because of the weather we had.”