Family, friends and camaraderie keep Atlantic Beach Bikefest tradition alive for 39 years

Casey bikefest 11pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Atlantic Beach Bike Fest started in 1980 and since then, it’s grown to be the largest African American Bike Rally in the United States attracting 100′s of thousands to the Grand Strand for Memorial Day weekend.

For some, it’s something new that they haven’t ever experienced before.

“We had the option to come out here and get a spot and we are seeing how it goes this year,” Mohamed Alkassar said, an Atlantic Beach business owner.

For others, it’s become well something that’s a tradition. So my question is: “What keeps you coming back every year?"

“My husband! And you know it’s fun and he’s in a motorcycle club and the comradery," said Joanne Merard who has attended bike fest for four years. "You know it’s fun and the food and the music of course.”

“I love it here man," a man named Kenny said. "The environment, the people, the food. Everything.”

“Camaraderie," another man said. "Friends getting together, riding bikes and being able to hang out.”

Some believe the traffic loop and the abundance of law enforcement are hindering the festival, not helping it.

“People like North Myrtle Beach because they’re welcoming,” said Merard. “I feel welcomed here. They allow the bikes to be the bikes and people know they still have to follow the rules. They allow us to have a good time and I feel like Myrtle Beach is so constricted with the barricades, I just feel like all you can do is go and come back. That’s not why I’m here.”

And though many say they’re avoiding heading south of Atlantic Beach to Myrtle Beach because of the bike loop, not everyone has a problem with it.

“All that loop stuff, I love it," said Reggie Dudley, 22 years at Bike Fest. "When we get in traffic, I don’t have any problem because they’re going to take pictures of us so it doesn’t bother me at all.”

Merard said there is one message to be heard:

"It's not craziness and a bunch of hooligans acting a fool, it's actually real people who love bikes and they're just coming together and having a good time."

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