OCEAN CITY – North Ocean City businesses had their requests answered this week as a couple of major events were approved to take place at Northside Park and the beach in the northern part of the resort.
The North Ocean City Business Alliance (NOCBA) formed in the beginning of this year when it was recognized that big events were continually being requested and approved in the downtown area of Ocean City with no consideration for northern Ocean City. Subsequently, a coalition of northern business owners formed the alliance to ensure the north end is getting its fair share in terms of marketing and promotion.
Since that initial creation, several meetings have been held and Spark Productions, who organizes the OC Car and Truck Shows each year as well as the Cruisin events, has been working with the alliance to create new and unique events to establish in north Ocean City.
At this week’s Mayor and Council meeting, Spark Productions’ Brad Hoffman presented the concept of the Uptown Beach Bash.
The event is spread out over the weekend before Labor Day weekend, Aug. 24-26, and is comprised of several components.
Starting on Friday, Aug. 24, a paddleboard race will be held at BJ’s on the Water where registration will also be held for Saturday’s event, a Bikini Parade.
The Bikini Parade will be an attempt to break a Guinness World Record starting at the Princess Royale and moving north one mile to finish at the Carousel Hotel. Prior to the parade, the Princess Royale will be hosting a kickoff party. Following the parade, The Carousel will host an awards ceremony and then the event will move to the Blue Ox where a Luau party will be held.
“What the bikini parade is about, its moms, daughters, grandmothers, it’s the girl that works at the beach stand all summer, coming together to celebrate the bikini and the beach, and break the world record,” Hoffman said. “It is like peanut butter and jelly. The bikini definitely goes with Ocean City and the beach.”
The Guinness World Record for a bikini parade was recently set with 450 participants in Panama Beach.
“I am really surprised that it is only 450 people,” Council President Jim Hall said. “You could smash that record very easily.”
On Sunday, Aug. 26, Local Palooza will be held at Northside Park from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. It will include 15 bands playing on two stages playing folk, rock, jazz and beach music. Mary Lou and the Untouchables has been signed to close the show on the park’s main stage.
“That event is based on bringing the last Sunday at the Park up to a different level with some of the entertainment,” Hoffman said.
An Ocean Art Show will be included in the weekend where artists will be selling beach related goods, such as paintings, photos, jewelry, and sculptures. There will also be a BMX stunt team for entertainment as well as kid games and other family entertainment. All together the event will cost around $22,000 to produce.
“The event is family entertainment, no alcohol served, no food served, just really trying to bring added attention, added revenue and added heads in beds and entertainment on the weekend before Labor Day because most of the business community has said that is a soft weekend for them,” Hoffman said.
Councilman Brent Ashley said the event was a “no brainer” and referred to it as the Super Bowl of the summer as he made a motion to approve.
“I was very happy to see that you bundled this [Bikini Parade] with other events … you made it a family-friendly event and it is very pleasing,” Councilwoman Mary Knight said.
Councilman Joe Hall was happy to see the event return from Ocean City’s history as he recalled the stories his grandparents use to tell of the parties on the beach in the north end of town.
“What occurred in the north end was a celebration of the beach culture and the fun, so I think you put a good package together, and it fits in the north end because that is where the old-time beach parties and culture happened and grew, so I think it is a great event,” he said.
Mayor Rick Meehan did list some concerns, especially over the proposal to have music playing at Northside Park for 10 hours straight and suggested to shorten or delay the schedule and Hoffman agreed.
“This is right in the middle of a residential neighborhood … I am not so sure 10 hours of hearing that beat is going to go over real well with the neighbors,” the mayor said.
In the end, the council voted unanimously to approve the Uptown Beach Bash.
“We promised the north end people that we would try to group some stuff up there and this is going to be a hit, I really believe it,” Jim Hall said.
Early registration for the Bikini Parade can take place online or the event’s locations up until the morning of the parade. Registration fees will go toward charity, according to Hoffman.
On the same day, the Mayor and City Council also approved a request to serve microbrew beer and wine at a new festival, Wine in the Park, to occur June 14-16, 2013 in conjunction with Art’s Alive at Northside Park.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas was quick to point out that serving alcohol at the park was against the town’s policy.
“Northside Park has been a family park, it’s there for the kids, and I am just not comfortable opening up Northside Park to alcohol,” she said.
Meehan shared the same view, but also pointed out it’s one weekend of the year and that it does not conflict with any youth events at the park.
“I do agree that Northside Park is a very special place, and it is a park, and it is a place where we hold all of our athletic events, it is a family place … but this is an exception. It is a one-time event during the year that I think will bring some increased activity to Ocean City and Northside Park … but we need to make sure that we protect Northside Park because it does sit in the middle of a residential area where many year-round residents reside and we need to be cognitive of that moving forward,” he said.
Councilwoman Mary Knight viewed the festival differently. She pointed out that Art’s Alive is popular for groups of girlfriends to go and she thought the wine festival would complement the event and even be marketed in that manner.
A wine festival to be held at Northside Park has been in the works for months now ever since Sen. Jim Mathias submitted legislation in Annapolis allowing Worcester County to hold three festivals per year selling alcohol to go. Previously, only one was allowed and it was dedicated to the annual Wine Fest at the Beach held in September in Ocean City.
Senate Bill 1075 authorized the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners to issue not more than three special alcohol festival licenses each year. The bill has passed through the Senate in a 46-0 vote, as well as the House is a 138-0 vote.
Wine in the Park will be produced by Jerry Hardesty, who has also held Wine Fest at the Beach for 15 years.
“We are willing to compromise what we are doing down there to make it more family oriented up town,” Hardesty said. “Obviously, we are going to be a little bit different because we are going to have entertainment and alcohol, which is not going on there presently. Hopefully, we will be able to create the proper guidelines and marriage that I think you folks are going to be proud of what we do.”