Well folks, we're truly at a crossroads with SOWO. Your enthusiasm and support have made SOWO one of the largest VAG events in the country. The challenge is...we're hosting it in one of the tiniest towns in the country. It's fair to say, the communities of Helen and surrounding White County Georgia appreciate the economic impact of our visit, but are quite overwhelmed by the magnitude and varying levels of maturity our event presents.
For the past six year's, the people of this community have embraced us and the police have been incredibly lenient. It's simply easier for them to politely ask people to improve their behavior than to attempt to ticket and process everyone that insists on pushing the limits.
I've recently had a visit with the City Manager and the Chief of Police and they have expressed their gratitude to you for the lack of arrests and serious charges over the last five years, but they have also expressed a concern for the lack of respect and consideration for the permanent residents. The Chief told me in simple terms, "when we feel like it's a lot of work AND we get disrespected?, well it's just not worth the hassle. I personally love SOWO, never thought I'd be worked up over looking around for VW's, but it's great for Helen, I just hope these participants don't make us dread seein' em'."
Having said that, the HPD's goal is to observe and monitor...THEY DO NOT WANT TO GET INVOLVED. So it's up to you to determine the future of SOWO. Remember, they won't stop you from enjoying yourself, just from disturbing the peace!
Here's the challenge areas from the last few year's and what's likely to happen.
Theft of/or destruction/defacing of public or city property. Once the SOWO banners are up on the sign posts, they become property of the City of Helen and are subject to a $250 fine for removal of city property, $250 fine for damage of city property (in 2012, the sign posts will have to be damaged in order to forcibly remove one of the banners)
*If caught, no warning. Arrest for theft, incarceration until Monday when a judge is (maybe) available.
Bullhorns. They might have been funny for about 42 seconds four year's ago, but yeah..no, not anymore. If caught, you will be asked for your city provided Public Address use permit and copy of FCC Rules/Regs. If you don't have both, expect no more than one warning, and then it's $100 fine for disturbing the peace. I promise you, whatever your saying ain't worth it.
Burnouts. Well, after five year's I promise I'm not gonna mention this one anymore. If you want to do burnouts.....GO OUT OF THE CITY LIMITS! Hell, it only takes about 45 sec to get from one limit to the other. I know none of you love tire smoke more than us but damn. Think! Most likely, one warning...but not a promise. Expect a ticket for even having water on or near the street. If you are present at the site of a burnout or supply water, or are in reasonable distance of the water while the burnout is occurring, you can be cited for creating an unsafe driving condition or unavoidable hazard. POP! $250. Driver, you're lucky.....inappropriate display of speed all the way up to reckless endangerment.....$150-215.
Folks, there's plenty of fun to be had by simply showing up, enjoying some cool cars, meeting some new people...catching up with old friends and ensuring the harmonious future of SOWO. It's just not worth taking that one idiotic extra step to try and bring it down for errbody.