- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (AP) - Prayers are being offered for a safe Atlantic Beach Bikefest this weekend.

Media outlets report that about two dozen people attended a prayer vigil in Atlantic Beach on Sunday.

Ministers and others prayed for the safety of those attending the festival as well as the safety of police and emergency workers who will work to keep the peace.

Local governments have been working for months on a safety plan after a rash of violence when three people were shot and killed and eight were injured in nearby Myrtle Beach last year during the weekend.

The plan includes a 23-mile one-way traffic loop late at night to keep traffic moving. Additional law enforcement officers will be in the area and additional ambulances on the road.

Bikefest begins Friday and runs through Memorial Day. The festival is centered in the small town of Atlantic Beach but it attracts thousands of bikers along the entire 60-mile Grand Strand area.

The area is also crowded with thousands of visitors coming to the beach for the first big weekend of the summer tourist season.

“Things like this are always needed … not only for Memorial Day weekend but throughout the year,” Rev. Jackie McCullough of First Missionary Baptist Church said Sunday. “As a community we should have a quarterly prayer vigil.”

George Livingston helped start the Bikefest in 1980 with the Carolina Knight Riders Motorcycle Club.

Livingston said if those attending the festival and those who are working to maintain the peace stay focused on the word of God, everything will be all right.

“You need to take the bloodshed and the divisiveness out of it and put the Lord back into it,” he said.

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