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Mount Myrtle and the Republican Debate
Myrtle Beach Convention Center - Myrtle Beach
January 8 thru 10, 2008
The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce is always looking for new ways to promote the city and its' beaches, of course. This year, however, they outdid themselves when they made the decision to try to get one, and then both, political parties to hold a nationally-televised presidential debate here. And both parties said "yes."
Unlike most states, South Carolina holds their Republican and Democratic primary elections separately, so the Republicans had the stage all to themselves here, to campaign, debate, and hold an election, for about two weeks. Somewhere in the middle of all that planning and scheduling, the ultimate publicity stunt was born.
This is a beach town, of course, and sand is an ordinary part of life here. Sand castles are also part of everyday life here, and Myrtle Beach currently holds the record for the largest single sand castle ever built. But have you ever seen a giant mountain of sand, with the head of each presidential candidate carved into it?
It would be like Mount Rushmore, right?.. no, it would be like.. Mount Myrtle!
Work on the project begins, in a large field across the street from the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and six giant heads take shape.
All of the local media outlets, and the national networks, pick up the story of Mount Myrtle, and on the second day you could already see an endless line of tourists, news crews, and local citizens, all wanting a picture of the giant project. Several local elementary school classes had field trips to the site. The Chamber of Commerce hired a local taxi company to carry people from the parking lot to the site, and offered free lunch for the workers, the police and security personnel hired for crowd control, and for the media crews.
As day two comes to an end, the local news crews set up for their live coverage of the events at the convention center. The candidates and the national media had not yet begun to arrive, and I could freely walk among the local crews as they presented their "live remote" broadcasts for the six o'clock news.
The pictures above are from the morning of the third day of work. It's hard to believe how fast this mountain grew. However, it was now the day of the Republican Debate, across the street, and Mount Myrtle was no longer the only thing growing on Oak Street.
During the winter months, Myrtle Beach is a small, quite town - but not on this day. The day of the Republican Debate was like no other winter day here, I'm sure. The crowds, the demonstrations, the media, and the police, were everywhere. The pictures above were all taken on the afternoon and evening of the debate.
The Greens pose for a family portrait at Mount Myrtle.
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