Bikers see new life in Fall Rally

Published: Oct. 2, 2011 at 2:47 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Bikers say the turnout for the 2011 Fall Rally is markedly better than it has been in years past, and it seems that an event that's seen a lackluster turnout is beginning to see new life.

"There are a lot more bikers here," says Ronie Watson, who drove with his wife from Virginia to attend the rally. "Some came in on Thursday, and it just keeps getting to be more and more and more."

Some folks say word of the city's repeal of the helmet law is spreading, causing more people to come to town. Others credit the higher numbers with a slightly better economic outlook. Some people say there's no real change in numbers, but people are just happy to be out on the road.

Bikers rode into the Grand Strand from all over South Carolina, and some came as far as Florida or Indiana to participate. For many, it's their first time at one of the Bike Rallies.

"A friend of mine told me about this event," says first-time rider Billy Hayes. "We all got together about a month ago and planned to come down."

Visitors say the rally has taken on a different mood, with more active crowds and even what some would call a more family friendly atmosphere. But many bikers at the rally say something is still missing in the number, and variety of vendors attending.

"You've got a lot of T-shirt vendors," Watson says, "but you've got a lot of bikers that want to do stuff to their bikes, and you don't have that here."

Watson says more parts and accessory vendors could bring about even bigger crowds.

But some local businesses say they've actually noticed a dip in the total number of bikers coming through their doors. At the Sun Down Sports Pub in Surfside Beach, Kitty Lemon says it just seems quieter.

"I've worked every day of the rally and it just seems smaller." But Kitty says she has noticed one big difference this year.

"They're happier and they're spending more money, which makes us happy as a business."

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