Sunday, July 2, 2017

As Myrtle Beach reels from violence, NC beaches tout their ‘family friendly’ alternative

Sunset Beach, the southern-most beach in North Carolina, has become a mecca for vacationers.
The day after last week’s shootings in Myrtle Beach, a family showed up in Debbie Smith’s office on Ocean Isle Beach looking for a room.
The family, Smith said, had stayed in an Ocean Boulevard hotel in Myrtle Beach next to where a teenager fired seven shots into a crowd early Sunday morning. They cut their Myrtle Beach vacation days short and drove less than an hour north, across the North Carolina state line, to spend the next week in the small Brunswick County beach town.
Smith, a lifelong resident of the island – before there was even a bridge to the mainland, she said – manages rental properties and set the family up. She’s also been the Ocean Isle Beach mayor for more than a decade.
The series of six Myrtle Beach shootings in three days left no one dead, but several people were wounded and the famous coastline is now publicly struggling with an image crisis. The city council held a special meeting, the governor of South Carolina held a meeting to talk policing strategies and the community called for action – from more boots on the ground to barricades along the sidewalk to earlier curfews for those under age.
Beach trips are often well-worn affairs, the same family in the same hotel or rental on the same scrap of land by the sea. For generations, beach umbrellas are stuck into the same sands like rainbow-colored family crests. While we may live hundreds of miles away and log hours on interstates and two-lane rural shortcuts to get there, families often have theirbeach, a sense of ownership earned through tradition and memories.

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