Foot-In-Mouth: Drinking Ban on Folly?

Introducing "Foot-In-Mouth" - a new HolyCitySinner.com series where I write something more opinion-based than the normal entries.

By now you are probably fully aware of what transpired around 10th Street at Folly Beach this past Independence Day. If you're not, read this entry and the City Paper's update HERE.

The near-riot has sparked a lot of conversation about banning alcohol on Folly Beach. The brawl on the beach should spark outrage amongst Charlestonians, but there is no need to group the every day Holy City beach-goers with the morons associated with the fight that broke out on July 4th.

The vast majority of the people arrested were not even from Charleston. These were kids from out-of-town who acted like complete idiots.

It's been reported as many as 4 "tour buses" and a DJ arrived at Folly for a planned party that brought in about 1,000 people (some news outlets say it was even more). ABC News 4 reported that there were two entities responsible for the party - After Midnight Parties, a Georgia event company, and Good Ole Boys, a clothing company out of Greenville. Not surprisingly, the two businesses are trying to distance themselves from the fight.

That task has been increasingly difficult as more details emerge. ABC News mentioned, "Folly Beach law states any public event held on the beach or any city property that's expected to have 75 people or more, must first get a permit, liability insurance, approval of city council and one private security guard per 100 people...ABC news 4 spoke with the owners of both companies who admitted they never filed a permit." Whoops. And how exactly did they not think over 75 people would attend when they showed up with FOUR BUSES?

The companies released a statement to ABC News 4 saying in effect that the people involved weren't that close to their event and shouldn't be associated with their party. The problem, of course, is that there were upwards of 1,000 (or more) people around 10th Street where this party occurred. How can they honestly know if these people were attending their party or not?

The bottom line is two companies, neither of which are based out of Charleston, created and promoted a party at Folly Beach without filing the necessary paperwork or obtaining the required security detail. The party drew in a lot of college-aged kids who were drinking and became rowdy. The partiers left a lot of trash behind as well. Isn't it the promoter's responsibility to handle clean-up as well? Sure, alcohol was certainly an issue, but the real problem was the amount of people there. If the appropriate paperwork was filed, perhaps the city would have been better prepared for the mass of party-goers that showed up that day and/or made sure the companies hired the required security.

I've been to Folly Beach many times and I have never witnessed anything remotely close to a fight, let alone a riot. In fact, I've never had a problem there PERIOD. Most people I've spoken to have said the same. Is there really a problem with alcohol on Folly Beach? I say absolutely not.

This was an  isolated incident sparked by irresponsible out-of-town party planners, who lead other non-Charlestonians to Folly Beach. For whatever reason this combination brought us to the violent conclusion that happened on July 4th. From my vantage point, the blame mostly belongs with the party-promoters.

Regardless, a ban of all alcohol on Folly Beach is an unecessary and drastic step to take due to this one incident. Something should be done to ensure this type of problem never happens again, but banning booze isn't the answer. The vast majority of Charleston residents and their guests are respectful of the beach and its rules. We shouldn't let some idiotic, fist-pumping, out-of-town meatheads ruin our Folly Beach experience.

If you want to voice your opinion, the public is invited to attent tomorrow (Tuesday) night's Folly Beach City Council workshop. It will be held at City Hall.