Much time is spent discussing advertising and marketing Ocean City. That’s necessary for the resort to stay competitive with other drive-to destinations, such as Virginia Beach, Atlantic City, Outer Banks, Williamsburg and the Jersey Shore beaches. All of this brainstorming leads to current initiatives like Rodney the Lifeguard and the Summer of Thanks Ocean City campaigns as well as former concepts, such as those aimed at promoting the half tank of gas concept.
While all that creative wrangling is necessary to lure and entire new visitors as well as retaining repeat business, tourism in Ocean City in my mind boils down to two simple concepts — weather and events. The former is and always will be the key and that’s the case in any beach resort.
Last weekend was the perfect Memorial Day weather scenario for Ocean City. With school-aged kids all still in school, the success of the holiday weekend has always been predicated on the advance weather forecast. With sunny skies and warm temperatures predicted throughout last week, the people came to Ocean City and stayed through the weekend.
Combine that forecast, which held true thankfully, with the new free events planned on the typically quiet Sunday and Tuesday evenings, laser lights show on Sundays and fireworks on Tuesdays, and the summer got off to an excellent start by just about all estimations.
With Ravens weekend here and the OC Air Show returning for its 5th installment, featuring two jet teams, as well as the car show, the season is off to a solid start and even the naysayers would have to acknowledge that.
Along those lines, here’s a look at how this year’s Memorial Day weekend stacked up to others. Bottom line is it was on par with last year’s holiday turnout, which was the highest in the last 20 years. Here are the estimates based off the demoflush formula calculated by the Town of Ocean City.
2012: 281,8122011: 281,895
It’s hard to believe the Salisbury City Council could not fork over $5,000 to the planned Independence Day celebration and specifically the fireworks display.
For the last six years, Salisbury has not had fireworks on the 4th of July. That’s just unacceptable for a city the size of Salisbury. With the private community rallying to hold a 4th of July event, which of course features fireworks after dusk, the city was asked to help a bit by contributing 25 percent of the $20,000 cost for the display with citizens and businesses picking up the remaining tab.
These sorts of events instill a tremendous amount of community pride and the argument made this week that government should not be subsidizing private events is not viable in this case. Mayor Jim Ireton’s had it right this week when he expressed his embarrassment.
"Votes such as last evening’s rejection of 5,000 to participate in Red, White and Boom diminish us as a community. We strive to attract new residents and create memories that contribute to our sense of place and our sense of history in our city. What better time to do that than on the celebration of our nation on July 4th? … A 5K contribution represents one-one hundredth of our entire City budget, and one-two hundredths of the City’s general fund budget. This vote leaves a terrible taste in the mouths of the community. I am embarrassed for us …” the mayor wrote in a statement.