HELEN, Ga. – SoWhat, a spinoff from the Southern Worthersee (SoWo) group that set a record for the largest crowd in White County but spawned violence, property damage and traffic problems in Helen two years ago will visit the Alpine Village for four days starting Thursday.
In 2015, a tow truck driver was trapped inside his vehicle which was almost overturned by an unruly mob. Another driver was trapped inside his car and the crowd busted a window out and attempted to flip his vehicle. There were also problems with weapons, one sexual assault and one kidnapping.
Those incidents led the city council to deny SoWo a permit last year and may have led SoWhat to split from the organization. SoWhat does not have a permit either.
Helen Police Chief Brian Stephens said Wednesday their visit is not an official event but a group of European car enthusiasts – mostly Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes owners – who will display their vehicles in the parking lot of the city’s hotels.
Stephens said he has talked to the head of the organization and he does not expect the same problems with the new group.
“We hope for the best but will prepare for the worst. We will be out in force. Any time we have a large event, we put together a safety plan. We will be ready for anything. We will have extra officers on the road. We have notified surrounding agencies and the Georgia State Patrol.”
Stephens said it usually is not the organizations that cause the problem.
“Our biggest concern s the people who follow them. They give us the most probem. You always have some people who don’t want to abide by what the group wants.”