Folly locals, visitors mixed on proposed alcohol ban but want respect

Larry McPherson, above, has lived on Folly for the majority of his adult life. He believes residents and officials on the island need to spend more time teaching and less time on attempting to restrict visitors. (Mike Wadsworth/WCIV)

By Mike{}

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Larry McPherson remembers Folly Beach in the early 1970s when people were still building houses on the dunes.

"I used to surf with a lot of younger people over the years," McPherson said. "You teach them respect for this beach."

McPherson shakes his head when he thinks of the huge beach party on July 4 near 10th Street where at least eight were arrested and five cops injured. In addition to the reported brawl, hundreds of bags of garbage were left on the beach, according to Folly Beach Public Safety Chief Dennis Brown.

"This island has changed," McPherson said. "I've noticed a lot of good changes here, but one thing I've also noticed is a lack of respect for the Island."

The incident on July 4th has Folly Beach City Council discussing a possible alcohol ban. Current regulations permit alcoholic beverages in cups. City Council meets tomorrow night to discuss the matter.

With a potential alcohol ban on the horizon, locals and those who frequently vacation at Folly Beach are asking, "Is this really the right thing to do?"

Bob Tucker brought his family to Folly from their hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

"As long as people are over 21 and behave, its OK," Tucker said. "I think passing law to keep that stuff will just send the law abiding citizens somewhere else."

"It would be a consideration (to vacation elsewhere){}if they banned alcohol," Tucker said as he took a sip of a beer from a red cup.

Todd Willis is visiting Folly with eight members of his family from Troy, North Carolina. He says they vacation by 12th and 13th streets, so they don't have to be around the large crowds.

"We shouldn't be affected by this," Willis said of the July 4 incident. "We don't think rules should affect us down here."

Some visitors like Lesley Truitt of Lexington, who tries to visit Folly once each year, would not mind the alcohol ban.

"If they ban alcohol, it wouldn't bother me. I can just come back up here to drink a beer," she said as she pointed at her vacation home near 12th street and Ashley Avenue.

Regardless of the stance on the ban, several locals and visitors on the island Monday agreed that Folly Beach officials can do more to maintain security on the Island.{} Chief Dennis Brown says that 16 P.O. Boxes at the East Indian Avenue Office were damaged on Sunday.

"Maybe this is Folly's fault," said Bob Tucker's wife Rebecca. She suggested that maybe there aren't enough law enforcement officers on the island.

Glenn Cummings lives on James Island, and has been around Folly Beach for nearly 25 years.

"I'm 50/50 on this," he said when asked about the potential alcohol ban. "Folly should look into it more. They gotta get it together."

Larry McPherson agrees that increased security could have kept the situation from happening.

"If you're gonna control 28,000 people or whatever it was on the Fourth of July, you have to protect them. From themselves and from others," McPherson said.

In his many years on Folly, McPherson said he was a manager at bars Marker 54 and River Cafe. He is now retired, and says it is the great people of Folly that keep him on the island.

"Things have changed, and they will continue to change around here," he said. "But, the focus should be on teaching, not restricting."