- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - This year’s Atlantic Beach Bikefest was much quieter than last year’s violence-marred event, authorities said Monday.

The holiday weekend motorcycle festival attracts mainly African-American bikers. It is centered in Atlantic Beach, a predominantly black enclave of just 350 year-round residents north of Myrtle Beach. During the event, hundreds of thousands of bikers spill across the region.

In 2014, Memorial Day weekend violence along the Grand Strand left three dead and seven wounded. This year, one man was hurt in a shooting at a hotel.

The water proved to be the biggest danger this year. Authorities said three people drowned in Horry County, two in the ocean and one in the Intracoastal Waterway, over the long holiday weekend.

And on Monday, heavy traffic was reported leaving the beach as the event wound down.

Police took a number of steps to try to reduce the violence. More officers - about 200 state troopers and 180 State Law Enforcement Division agents - joined local law enforcement agencies with an already heavy police presence.

Authorities created a 23-mile, one-way loop to keep traffic moving. They also placed steel barricades along Ocean Boulevard to prevent jaywalking that could further slow traffic. And police said they strictly enforced loitering laws to prevent impromptu parties on private property and in parking lots.

The exact number of arrests and tickets issued will be released Tuesday, Horry County Police said.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean issued a statement Monday, thanking law enforcement for making a difficult situation more manageable and safer.

“Clearly, there are details to be addressed and improvements to be made, so we must remain committed to making Memorial Day weekend safe and enjoyable for everyone,” Dean said.

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