FROM CLUTCH & CHROME
A strange mix of badly hidden derisions and stereotype induced community fear has turned away motorcycle enthusiasts before they even had the chance to arrive at Carolina Beach in North Carolina.
Carolina Beach is located on the Atlantic Coast of Southeastern North Carolina, 15 miles from the historic city of Wilmington. It was in this picturesque town just last week where an idea was offered by local hotel and restaurant representative Danny Swinson to open the town’s scenic streets to bikers on their annual migration to Myrtle Beach for the indecisive but historic motorcycle rally.
On the surface, the idea seemed a good one. The town’s website states ‘Hospitality has long been a trademark of Carolina Beach’.
Although Swinson presented statistics of income, age and careers of people who owned motorcycles and even promised to invite only ‘honorable motorcycle clubs, such as those representing charities or groups of firefighters and police officers’ to Carolina Beach during what would be Bike Week in Myrtle Beach in May, local residents and politicians had already made up their minds.
There would be no invitation or organized event.
Of course using a standard of ‘honorable motorcycle clubs’ is nice way of saying that the everyday biker interested in visiting a motorcycle rally is by default ‘uninvited’ to Carolina Beach. Actually it’s not even a nice way, instead it essentially gives the person using the phrase and those who agree to its premise a social pass of making judgments based on stereotypes.
Regardless, officials in Carolina Beach are apparently walking along the same scenic path those in Myrtle Beach have already taken when it comes to attitudes over motorcycle enthusiasts.
But it appears at the heart of the problem is Carolina Beach’s own checkered past.
When the idea was first suggested Mayor Joel Macon recalled a time when Carolina Beach wasn’t the slice of small town heaven it is today.
“The only thing I remember is that we were basically considered a rough beach,” the mayor said. “A lot of fights, people being stabbed, just a lot of trouble, a lot of roughnecks.”
All this occurred, according to Mayor Macon, when bikers did visit Carolina Beach in large numbers in the past.
These memories are so prevalent it seems, the recent suggestion to capture the motorcycle dollars riding down to Myrtle Beach was enough to flood town council members with phone calls and e-mails from people upset about the request.
Interestingly, the motorcycle community is getting support from the most unlikely of places, with law enforcement officials trying to bring the hysterics more suited to an perfect-past era of ‘Donna Reed’ into perspective.
Former New Hanover County sheriff Sid Causey started his career as a Carolina Beach police officer and he has stated in his opinion, the beach’s former reputation wasn’t entirely because of the biker clubs.
And Earl Woodham, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agrees, saying most motorcycle clubs don't live up to their rough reputation.
“They go to the same places a family would go to have fun,” Woodham said.
Ironically, from listening to Carolina Beach town officials 'debate' the matter, they seem to want a motorcycle rally or event in town. During the discussion of why the council or residents didn’t want to invite bikers the Mayor described the town’s target audience, or their perfect tourist.
“We want people who are going to come down here and have fun, go out to eat, go to bars and have a drink and listen to music,” Macon said.
Based on the recent uproar, the Mayor should be careful of what he wishes for because it sounds suspiciously like a motorcycle event.
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