Some Folly Beach residents had to spend their July 4th picking up trash left behind by busloads of drunken revelers.
Earlier that day, a mini-riot broke out on the beach near 10th Street. It got so bad that several police officers were injured trying to bring order to this scene out of MTV “Spring Break.”
Tan, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
So, as the locals are picking up after the careless people, longtime resident Andy Norman turns to Mayor Tim Goodwin and says, “It's time.”
For 32 years, Norman has defended this elegantly funky island town's policy of allowing alcohol on the beach. That all ended Wednesday.
“It breaks my heart,” Norman says. “I want people to come to Folly and have a good time. But we've lost control.”
Norman speaks for a lot of people who live out here. For all their hospitality over the years, Folly residents are left with mountains of trash and a rising crime rate. Their beaches and businesses are routinely trashed by thoughtless drunks.
So it's time. Looks like the city is going to have to ban alcohol on the beach.
The mayor did not want to do this.
Goodwin has long defended the rights of people to have a beer on the beach. It's a glorious thing, one of the best perks of living here.
But Folly is being plagued by break-ins at rental houses, date-rape drugs in women's drinks, dope dealers on the beach and people using private yards as public toilets. People who used to rent vacation homes every year are looking elsewhere because, they say, Folly is no longer a family friendly place.
That hurts.Goodwin feels certain a referendum on banning alcohol would pass now, but there may not be time. Island businesses say they can't take much more of this. After all, renters provide a tax base; day-trippers spend almost nothing.
City Council could pass an ordinance banning alcohol this month, and that would be it. The mayor never thought he'd go along with it.
“I've been about beaten down to it,” he says.
On Tuesday, the city will hold a public workshop to talk about this. It will be a long, painful session.
You can say Folly needs more police officers, better trained at crowd control. That takes money. The sheriff's office is considering DUI checkpoints, but it's hard to deter stupidity.
Goodwin concedes this won't be a panacea, but it may be where the island has to start. To be sure, this isn't fair to thousands of responsible beachgoers. And no doubt some of the ones who have brought us to this will complain loudest. Too bad. They have proven they can't learn, and they won't behave.
As Norman says, it's always the poor behavior of a few that costs the rest of us our rights and privileges. And they are too dumb to realize or don't care that this is their fault.
It's going to be a sad day if Folly Beach bans alcohol. But unfortunately, no reasonable person could blame them.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.
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