Harley bikers return to Grand Strand for fall migration

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Despite the soggy weather and wet roadways, motorcyclists are beginning to roar into the Grand Strand for the area's annual Harley Fall Migration.

The event is slated to bring handfuls of bikers to various parts of the Grand Strand for festivities scheduled for Sept. 29 through Oct. 3.

The 2010 fall rally marks the first time Harley bikers have returned to the Grand Strand since a controversial helmet law was ruled invalid by the South Carolina Supreme Court in June.

A lawsuit was filed in April 2009 on behalf of 49 people after the City of Myrtle Beach enacted a law requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets inside of city limits. However, under South Carolina law, anyone over the age of 21 is not required to wear a helmet.

Officials said the lawsuit argued the law was invalid because it preempted state law. The court's decision also applied to a similar lawsuit filed by Business Owners Organized to Support Tourism (BOOST) and Bart Viers.

"We find that the City Helmet Ordinance fails under implied field preemption due to the need for statewide uniformity and therefore issue a declaratory judgment invalidating the ordinance," the judgment concluded.

But despite the overturned helmet law in Myrtle Beach, officials in Horry County say bikers can expect the 2010 fall rally to be one of the smallest in recent years. Numbers obtained by WMBF News reveal only 31 vendor permits were issued for the rally, in addition to nine special events permits.

The greatest number of vendors looking to make some quick cash will be set up along the Central Strand, stretching between US-501 and Highway 544.

According to Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier, 60 permits were issued throughout the county for the 2009 fall rally, and 172 in 2008.

The largest rally in the last five years was held along the Grand Strand in 2007, when a total of 211 vendor permits were issued.

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