Santa arriving on a zipline? Roaming drum line band? Sleigh rides in the sand?
They arent your usual holiday festivities, but downtown Myrtle Beach businesses organizing the first Christmas on the Boardwalk festival hope theyll become a new tradition.
Businesses are putting the finishing touches on plans for the first winter-time festival aiming to lure shoppers and revelers to an area that has traditionally been dead during the tourist off-season, so much so that some merchants shut down until visitors start trickling in during the spring.
Thats shifted a bit in the past few years since the mile-long boardwalk opened and more year-round restaurants and attractions such as the SkyWheel have opened.
Folks only need a little more nudge through special holiday activities to remind them that Ocean Boulevard has lots to offer in the off-season, too, officials said.
It looks dead in the winter, said DeAnn Sarver, who owns the Boardwalk Coffee House and Nacho Mamas eatery on Ninth Avenue North. They need an excuse to come down to the area.
Details of the festival -- which would run on Saturdays Nov. 24 through December -- are still being finalized, and some of the components, including the sleigh rides on the beach might be too tricky to pull off this year, officials said. Still, they see this as a starting point to build on each year.
For sure, businesses plan to decorate, Santa will make appearances and there will be music, including special music groups, carolers and perhaps a roaming drum line band, according to a plan submitted to the city for approval. And, keeping with quirky Myrtle Beach style, Elvis might even drop by.
The Myrtle Beach City Council still has to sign off on the plan, and likely will consider it during its next meeting Oct. 23.
The festival would include New Years Eve parties in some restaurants and bars, but not a street festival like the one held on Ocean Boulevard a few years ago that was a success but wasnt repeated because an organizer hasnt come forward with a plan. The Oceanfront Merchants Association is too busy organizing summer activities such as Hot Summer Nights and its two festivals -- Oktoberfest and St. Patricks Day festival -- to take on another one.
Theres interest in seeing something like that [New Years Eve street party] happen again, said Dave Sebok, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corp., which is working with business owners on the Christmas festival this year.
The area is ready for a Christmas festival, as winter activity has picked up in the area since the boardwalk opened nearly three years ago, and more businesses are staying open as a result, Sebok said.
A lot of people are interested in seeing something happen down there in the winter season, he said. [The holiday festival is] setting the stage for doing something bigger each year. Its a step in that direction. We certainly want to make a run at it.
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