MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Sun Fun Festival kicked off Friday in Myrtle Beach after a five-year hiatus.
The event has been taken over by the Oceanfront Merchants Association to bring tradition back to Ocean Boulevard.
Buz Plyler owns the Gay Dolphin and is a member of the Oceanfront Merchants Association. His father helped start the original Sun Fun Festival 65 years ago.
"Sun Fun started in 1951 and he was one of the people that started it with the chamber in 1951. An early chairman of the festival and always a big proponent." said Michelle Kerschner, manager of the Gay Dolphin, and OMA member.
The festival was meant to showcase the culture of the Grand Strand, with shag and beauty contests, a parade and even a "law" that all festivalgoers must wear shorts or bathing suits. Plyler said this time around, he wants to showcase those traditions and let a new generation experience them.
"We've had a tremendous response. Facebook inquiries have come in by the thousands. We are really lucky that everyone seems to be in full support." he said.
The event was canceled back in 2010 after being held in The Market Common area for years due to a lack of funding from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Now, OMA has decided to bring the event back to the beach in hopes that it may revitalize downtown Myrtle Beach and also promote more business.
"That's what people grew up coming down here to see," said Michelle Kerschner, manager of the Gay Dolphin and an OMA member. "So the Sun Fun Festival was a part of that as well and we felt like while we realize that the town has to change with the times to be competitive and to have people still want to come here, we want to not forget where we came from and bring a little bit of that nostalgic Myrtle Beach back. And people seem to really crave it."
Overall, OMA hopes to get past the last few years and bring the historic festival back, bigger and better than ever.
"If we enjoy success this year, then we will see it return every year thereafter. This is the natural place for it. People enjoy being by the sea." said Plyler.
The traditional Sun Fun Parade will take place Saturday at 10 a.m., and the festival will continue until Sunday, June 5. The festival is free to the public.