Buoys on the Boulevard owner Weldon Boyd announced the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day parade this week after the city of North Myrtle Beach warned him that he couldn’t hold a parade down public streets without a permit.
The Main Street pub crawl on March 13 is still scheduled, unless the State Law Enforcement Division intervenes. As of Tuesday, Boyd hadn’t asked the South Carolina Department of Commerce for permission to hold his pub crawl, a necessary step for gatherings of 250 people or more under Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive order.
In a video posted to Buoy’s Facebook page Monday, the restaurant owner said the parade would be canceled. On Tuesday, Boyd took to Facebook again to accuse the city of North Myrtle Beach of lying to him, and approving his parade before telling him he couldn’t have it. The city has a different explanation.
A couple of weeks ago, Boyd met with two city staffers: one from the city’s business license division and one from code enforcement. Boyd said in another Facebook video that he went there on February 12 to ask about vendor permit licenses, and was told he couldn’t have vendors. Neither employee had the authority to approve a parade.
After the city of North Myrtle Beach posted on Facebook that unpermitted parades aren’t allowed, Boyd posted his own video in response and played a roughly two-minute recording of what he described as a 21-minute conversation with city staff during the city hall meeting.
“In that two minutes, it’s gonna prove that Mike Mahaney lied in this letter to me and when he posted that on the city’s Facebook page, he lied to all of you,” Boyd said in the video. “It’s going to prove they knew about the parade ahead of time, they had given me permission to do the parade, they okayed it, verbally. We even discussed the parade route and where it was going to go, and I modified the parade route right there in this conversation. Nowhere in this conversation was it hinted at that the golf carts were going to be used for transport. It was said up front this was going to be a parade when they okayed it.”
Here’s a transcription of the two-minute segment Boyd played on his video.
Boyd: “Do y’all know of any other issues that are here right now that you can save me from having to come back, that we’re going to run into?”
City employee (1): “Got anything else planned? I mean, I don’t know what’s going on.”
City employee (2): “You’ve got to give us some more details.”
Boyd: “As of now, we’re organizing a crawl, we’re going to have a map made, it’s going to go business to business to business; fairly, it hits every single business. And then we’re gonna have…”
Employee (1): “[inaudible]… anything about any crawls.”
Employee (2): “No, I mean I would …”
Weldon: “What about golf cart parades?”
Employee (2): “… I would get in touch with public safety to let them know how many people you expect, like you’re saying, where you might be, so that there’s people around to direct foot traffic or to keep people safe. I think that would be a good idea.”
Boyd: “So do I call chief Dennis? Who do I call up there? Who would you like for me to talk to?”
Employee (1): “I would start with the general number and see what they recommend. … A parade of golf carts … as long as you’re following all the regulations for golf carts, I don’t see any issue.”
Boyd: “So golf carts are allowed to turn onto Main Street, ride to the end of Main Street, and then take a left or right?”
Employee (1): “I don’t know what the regulations are for golf carts.”
Boyd: “Is there a way I could get a copy of that?”
Employee (1): “Probably… the police department you think?”
Employee (2): “Mmhmm.”
Boyd: “I’ll mention that when I call them.”
Employee (2): “You do know golf carts aren’t allowed on Ocean Boulevard, because that’s a state highway.”
Boyd: “But they can cross Ocean Boulevard?”
Employee (2): “They can, yes.”
Boyd: “So we could go take a left or right and go straight to the beach access and turn around, and come back up.”
Employee (2): Yes. Have they been aware of your path and what time it’s going to be?”
Boyd: “Alright well, I guess I maybe have to go have some conversations.”
“Nowhere was the word ‘golf carts were only being used for transport,” used in there,” Boyd said in his video. “Mike Mahaney, the city manager, says on Facebook and in this letter to me that we were not given permission. That was permission. Two employees who were in charge of these things, that are in charge of enforcing these things and accepting or denying these ordinances, or codes, permits and events, they both okayed it. So why did you lie, Mike Mahaney?”
North Myrtle Beach spokesperson Pat Dowling said Boyd was twisting the facts.
Holding a parade requires permission from city council at least 15 days in advance, along with a timetable of events, crowd size estimate, crowd and traffic control measures, and a public liability insurance policy with at least $1 million in coverage for property damage and $1 million in coverage for personal injury, according to a city ordinance. Those rules and the ordinance, Sec. 16-13, are posted online in a publicly accessible format available to anyone with internet access.
“He never applied for a permit,” Dowling said. “He came in to discuss the pub crawl on Saturday with golf carts as the transport. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t impede traffic. He apparently asked staff if they could turn left or right onto Ocean Boulevard and they said no (Golf carts aren’t permitted on state highways). That is not a parade.”
On February 19, Buoys on the Boulevard posted on Facebook that they were “looking for unique cars/trucks for the Golf Cart parade. These will be in the middle or rear of the pack to stay with the pace.”
In that same post, Buoys said “We also want to invite all sports teams, dance schools or any other group to join in the parade!”
On Monday, the city sent Boyd a letter and posted on the city’s Facebook page that unpermitted parades down public streets without permission would face enforcement action by the city’s public safety department. Boyd relented and said in a Facebook video that the parade was canceled, but he wasn’t happy about it.
“The problem we got is the city of North Myrtle Beach, Marilyn Hatley and Mike Mahaney hate my guts,” Boyd said. “It is what it is. I’m not a big fan of them.”
Dowling said the city decided to nip it in the bud before too many people got involved with an illegal parade.
“He’s not quite providing his viewers with all the facts,” Dowling said. “He went from a golf cart-focused pub crawl on St. Patrick’s Day to a golf cart parade inviting trucks, cars, sports teams, dance groups to participate in the parade.”
North Myrtle Beach canceled its own St. Patrick’s Day parade due to COVID-19. Events that feature more than 250 people require permission from the South Carolina Department of Commerce, per an executive order, and the city didn’t believe it could safely handle the thousands of people who would have attended.
“You can’t control 40,000 people, which is what the parade attracts annually,” Dowling said Tuesday. “The whole premise is COVID-19 is very active in North Myrtle Beach. We have cases in the double digits every day except for yesterday. The rest of the nation may be experiencing a downturn, we’re not. When we had the Great Christmas Light Show, we applied to the department of commerce and received permission to do it, but we had to abide by certain guidelines.”
If the city allowed an unpermitted parade to occur, it could be liable if someone was injured.
“The city manager did the correct thing,” Dowling added. “He said ‘What you’re planning is illegal, shut it down, and we’ll also be on hand to make sure it doesn’t occur.’”
Boyd has not yet responded to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.
A visit from SLED
On Tuesday, Boyd posted a video saying a SLED agent was coming to pay him a visit, and accused the city, specifically city manager Mike Mahaney, of calling the state cops on him.
“If they can’t control something or it’s out of their hands or they don’t know how to handle it and it’s COVID-related, they go and they can call SLED and give us up to SLED,” Boyd said in his Facebook video. “And now the state steps in and they’re going to have a conversation with us. So that’s what Mike Mahaney’s done. He was not able to control us because the people got behind us, which he can’t stop. So he decided, ‘Let’s hand it over to SLED now, I’ma still get my way.’”
Dowling said the SLED visit had nothing to do with the city nor Mahaney, and that the city didn’t know about the Tuesday SLED visit until a few hours before it was scheduled.
“We were sitting in a meeting with business licenses, the city manager, myself and several other division heads were in there discussing a range of issues,” Dowling said. “The business license person got a call from SLED, and they said, ‘We just want to advise you we’re coming down to North Myrtle Beach because we saw the city post about the parade and we saw Weldon Boyd’s first video.’”
Pursuant to an executive order by Gov. McMaster, gatherings of 250 people or more require permission from the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
"They have to receive approval for their event from the South Carolina Department of Commerce before they can hold it," Dowling said. "Any event of more than 250 people, which it will certainly be. If you hold it without approval, you can face SLED enforcement action."
Department of commerce spokesperson Alex Clark on Tuesday said the department had not received an exception application for permission to hold the event, but declined to say specifically if the pub crawl event needed permission.
SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby confirmed that the agency had visited Buoys on Tuesday.
SLED agents “took the opportunity to remind them of the protocols within the governor’s executive order and to make sure they would stay in compliance with the executive order,” Crosby said, adding that he couldn’t make the determination on whether the event would need permission from the department of commerce.
“That’s not for me to answer, other than the governor’s executive order, which says if you have an event that’s going to have more than 250 people, you have to have a permit from the department of commerce,” he said.
In a video posted Wednesday, Boyd warned the pub crawlers not to stray into the street, which won’t be shut down for the event, and asked everyone to be safe.
“Just make sure that you are steadily moving around, wear a mask, be social distancing, and just don’t hang out in one spot too long,” Boyd said. “Don’t fall in the street and take a nap.”