OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council offered this week to paint a portion of the Boardwalk pink in attempts to compromise on a race route for Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure event proposed for 2012.
The organization has already turned the Rockefeller Center, cruise ships and even the pyramids pink, and now they look to Ocean City to do the same.
“We want to turn Ocean City pink both literally and figuratively,” Race Director Elaine Ford said. “The race has the power and the influence to do that.”
Of the money raised at the Race of Cure each year, 75 percent stays in Maryland to fund local programs for women and families. The remaining 25 percent of funding supports national research to find the cures for breast cancer. In fiscal year 2011, Komen Maryland awarded $2.2 million in grants to 27 programs across the state.
The Race for the Cure began in Maryland as a 2,200-participant 5K in 1993 and has flourished into the largest footrace in Maryland. The race has taken place in Baltimore for the past 14 years and in Hunt Valley for the past four years.
By bringing the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to Ocean City, it would be a new annual event for the shore. Komen proposed to the Mayor and City Council for the event to take place on Sunday, April 22, 2012, and it will begin at 6 a.m. and will be finished and cleared out by noon.
The race would feature a looped route, beginning in the Inlet Lot and proceeding north on Baltimore Avenue and moving to the Boardwalk to continue south back toward the Inlet. The Inlet lot would house the sponsors of the event called “tent city”.
The Recreation and Parks Department commented on the application that the event will bring a major economic impact to Ocean City early in its early season.
The Ocean City Police Department commented that 40 to 45 officers would have to be assigned to the event for traffic control of the 32 intersections on Baltimore Avenue and general patrol on the Inlet lot, which would be a total cost close to $12,000. The proposed route also calls for Baltimore Avenue to be closed over a six-hour period.
The department suggested eliminating Baltimore Avenue from the route all together, keeping the race just on the Boardwalk. This would reduce the number of officers needed, significantly lowering the cost to the town and minimizing disruptions to residents and businesses on Baltimore Avenue as well as providing more exposure to Boardwalk businesses.
Labor costs would come close to $16,500 and Inlet parking revenue would be close to $4,500, which would total the cost to the town around $20,000.
The event coordinators have estimated an expected number of participants plus spectators to be anywhere from 5,000 to 16,000 people.
“If you put the number one vacation destination spot in Maryland, with the number one fundraiser in Maryland and the number one organization in trust, it sounds like a win-win to us,” said Ford.
“We are all trying to be cost conscience,” Councilwoman Mary Knight said in responding to the police department’s suggestions. She asked why the Boardwalk isn’t being proposed as the race route. Knight also had concerns over closing the Inlet lot the weekend before Easter.
Ford explained that Komen headquarters directs their teams to work for a loop race route.
“We typically don’t like to have an out and back course,” Ford said.
Knight made the observation that the town won’t have 45 police officers employed to cover the event and make it safe to everybody.
“We don’t want to say no,” Knight said. “We understand the importance and what a good cause it is, but the concerns are the cost. If we could do it on the Boardwalk, then we could reduce those costs substantially.”
Special Events Director John Sullivan explained the number of visitors the event would bring to town could alleviate some of the costs to the town.
“The goal is to bring lots of people to the town,” Sullivan said. “A large number will travel and stay in hotels.”
Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out that one of Ocean City’s biggest attractions is the Boardwalk.
“I would think everybody would prefer to walk up and down the Boardwalk,” Meehan said.
Ford said that if that were to happen there would have to be a significant dividing line down the Boardwalk in order to differentiate between those who are running out from those who are returning.
“We could put a pink line down the middle of the boardwalk for you,” Meehan suggested.
Ford said that the Komen team would be open to re-visiting different options in a race route.
The council voted to hold the date for the Race for a Cure and the Komen team will work with city staff to finalize a race route.
“We’ll make this work,” assured Council President Jim Hall.
Other special events the Mayor and City Council approved during Monday night’s meeting was a three-year request for October’s annual Endless Summer Cruisin’ and May’s annual Cruisin’ OC, as well as a three-year request for Board Walkin’ for Pets held in April every year and 2011’s Walk MS, which will also be held in April.