Religious leaders plan prayers during Bikefest

In this June 4, 2014 photo, discounted shirts for the 2014 Atlantic Beach Bikefest are sold outside a beach shop in Atlantic Beach, S.C. Religious leaders on the Grand Strand will pray for the safety of those attending the Atlantic Beach Bikefest this month after violence marred the event last year.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Religious leaders on the Grand Strand will pray for the safety of those attending the Atlantic Beach Bikefest this month after violence marred the event last year.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports (http://bit.ly/1dHAz1n) a group of pastors plans 60 hours of prayer on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach beginning May 21 and extending into the long Memorial Day weekend.

Volunteers from local churches will work four-hour shifts to welcome and pray with people in town for weekend events. The Rev. Joe Washington, one of the organizers, says there cannot be too much prayer.

“We are working to promote peace, camaraderie and friendship. We’re going to pray for God’s peace and blessings on the Grand Strand,” added Jack Narvel, who is helping organize the prayer tents on Ocean Boulevard.

Memorial Day weekend last year turned deadly when three people were shot and killed in Myrtle Beach and seven others wounded in other shootings. Tens of thousands of people are attracted to the beach for the Bikefest and the start of the summer season.

This year there will be a 23-mile, one-way traffic loop to keep traffic moving at night during Bikefest being staged in nearby Atlantic Beach.

Officers will be working out of five command centers and ambulances will be staged along the Grand Strand.

In recent weeks a $50,000 social media campaign has been underway featuring everyone from police officers to ordinary residents urging visitors to obey the law.

In addition, about 50 local residents have signed up to be goodwill ambassadors, greeting visitors, giving directions, answering questions and making sure drivers know about the traffic loop.