GARDEN CITY BEACH, SC (WMBF) - For 33 years, thousands of people and horses have been making their way to the Grand Strand to participate in the American Heart Association Beach Ride.
As the name would suggest, the ride is supposed to be on the beach. Unfortunately, that's not what happened.
"It wasn't anybody's fault, I don't think. But they kind of deterred us off the beach," said Lori Freeman, one of the many riders in town.
Freeman traveled all the way from Ridgeway, SC to ride down the beach for her father and stepfather.
Like usual, the riders started in Surfside Beach, but this year went south instead of north. The ride usually goes into Myrtle Beach, but this year, a dredging project forced them to go the other way down the beach.
When they got to Garden City Beach, they didn't get the welcome they were expecting.
"They said that there wasn't a county beach permit for us to ride on Garden City Beaches," Freeman said.
Horry County Police officers broke the bad news.
It is illegal to ride a horse in Garden City Beach without a special event permit. It turns out the organizers got a permit for Surfside Beach. But police told them they didn't have records of a permit with Garden City Beach.
Officers had no other choice but to turn them back.
"It was very disappointing to be stopped at the beach and say 'turn around,'" Freeman said.
Many of the riders hadn't reached their 20 mile goal, so they asked police what they could do.
They were given two options: turn around and go back, or continue on to the Garden City pier on the road.
"We rode on down here just to get our miles in, so that everybody will be happy because I've got a lot of people who paid a lot of money to do this," Freeman added.
Staying persistent, most of the riders made their mileage goals and even made it back on the beach.
While the day may have been frustrating, many say they were proud of how they kept on riding.
"I don't know that it was anybody's fault," Freeman said. "It just happened, and we made the best of it."
Horry County Police Sergeant Muldoon tells WMBF News that the riders should have no problems next year if they get the correct permits.