This past weekend was an annual tradition in Daytona Beach, Fl. Bikers, tourists and vendors from all over the United States came to our city to celebrate community, culture and the love of motorcycles. For nearly 75 years, Bike Week has been a hub for business owners, particularly black and minority business owners, who depend on the revenue and exposure of the event to not only fund their businesses, but to ultimately feed their families.
As usual, the week began with bikers riding in early in the week and vendors setting up all along Main Street, International Speedway, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd. For that particular area of town, bike week represents more than just a week-long celebration, it represents a week-long escape from the constant trials, tribulations and hardships from living in an impoverished community.
This year, vendors were in for a rude awakening. The coronavirus pandemic brought the City of Daytona Beach to vote and file a declaration of emergency. City leaders then decided to cancel and pull all Daytona Beach event permits for the last two days, which are usually the largest attendance, particularly in our area. While other areas of town got to enjoy the majority of the week's visits and revenue, the midtown vendors who mostly only come for that weekend, due to astronomical vending and insurance fees, were forced to close down.
Many vendors openly showed their disdain for the public declaration as other areas of the city were still selling items such as merchandise, liquor and food, well past the city's declaration. On the city's Facebook page, many residents were torn by the decision. With one social media user stating "the city had 7 days to properly make a decision before waiting until the final moment", while another countered with "the city made the best decision for the safety of its residents".
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