HOLLYWOOD, SC (WCSC) - When the clock strikes nine Sunday morning, the 25th annual Charleston Cup officially begins, reinstating what once used to be a Lowcountry tradition.
In 1986 Race Director Karl McMillan helped start the annual event. It was a day of horse races aimed at marketing lots for homes in the Plantation at Stono Ferry. By 2003 all of them sold, and the racetrack went silent for eight years.
"There was no motivation to do it from a marketing perspective, so we stopped doing it," said McMillan.
Now the Charleston Cup is back by popular demand, giving the many people facing financial woes in today's difficult economy a reason to saddle up for some fun.
"You know you can buy a $200 parking pass on the infield and throw 10 of your friends in a suburban and come out and get a whole day of entertainment for cheaper than you can go to the movies and dinner," McMillan said.
According to McMillan, whether it is an economic storm or an actual hurricane, the event provides a special type of social therapy.
"Everybody was so pent up after Hugo, and they were just ready to get out after Hugo and see and be seen," McMillan said. "I think there's a little bit of that going on right now, too."
Horses are not the only highlight of the Charleston Cup. Several homeowners living in the Plantation at Stono Ferry have planned house parties to welcome back the event.
"I'm planning on about a hundred people," said homeowner Pat Anderson, whose house is located next to the racetrack. "Probably about 45 that don't live in Stono Ferry and we have a progressive three houses that are having a party. Starting with blood marys and mimosas around probably 9:30 in the morning. We'll go until the last race."
With at least 10,000 people expected Sunday, neighbors have developed some concerns about snarled traffic.
"A few people worried about getting to church Sunday morning," Anderson said. " But other than that I think everybody is very excited."
As far as what to wear to the event, McMillan said dress will run the gamut, from jeans and sweatshirts to mink coats.
The races will take place regardless of the weather. Gates open at 9 a.m. Sunday, with the event ending at 5 p.m.