OCEAN CITY – Rising gas prices may be affecting some vacationers this year, but it certainly didn’t deter thousands of senior weekers from flocking to the resort, with over 13,000 turning out this year for the planned Play It Safe events.
Play It Safe events occur each year during the month of June, providing fun, alcohol-free events for the recent high-school graduates to participate in.
The mission of Play It Safe has remained the same throughout the years – “encourage high school graduates to make informed, healthy choices while having responsible fun without the use of alcohol and other drugs.”
Last year was a record-breaking year for Play It Safe, with 13,148 recent graduates turning out during the month of June for the events. With 13,095 already reported for this year’s Play It Safe campaign and two events left to add to the final total, it look as if 2008 could be another record breaking year.
Donna Greenwood, chairwoman of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee, which organizes the annual events, reported this week it was another successful year with the senior week visitors.
Play It Safe kicked off on June 1 this year with the popular Play It Safe OC Idol and wrapped up on June 20. Greenwood reported that the first week was the busiest this year, surprising officials as they anticipated week two to be the strongest.
“More and more of our local kids were with us this year,” said Greenwood.
Despite media reports of senior week mischief and a few Boardwalk brawls amongst the younger crowd, Greenwood reported a good group of kids this year with few problems.
“We don’t really have too many problems with the kids. They have to sign in and we can ask them to leave if they are not in any condition to participate,” said Greeenwood. “We do try to screen them, we also try to watch out for age or for people who shouldn’t be at the events. If somebody is alcohol impaired, we really don’t want them with us.”
Despite some of the unavoidable pitfalls, Greenwood reported that she was pleased with this year’s graduates, noting how enjoyable the events were for them as well as for the volunteers.
‘The kids are appreciative and grateful, always saying thank-you,” she said.
Greenwood explained most of the kids visiting Ocean City are simply here to have fun with a fraction of the thousands getting into trouble.
“You really can’t paint them all with the same brush,” said Greenwood.
Play It Safe events range from pancake eating contests to rock climbing to miniature golf, with over 60 events held throughout the month.
Karaoke is typically the most popular event amongst the senior week crowd, said Greenwood, reporting more than 1,100 graduates turned out for each of the two Play It Safe OC Idol events.
“The kids really like it, it’s right off the Boardwalk, right on the beach, its really fun,” she said.
For the complete story and all the week’s news, see The Dispatch on Friday morning.