OCEAN CITY – There is a buzz around town over this summer’s new weekly events — the laser sphere and the fireworks — as attendance has been increasing each week.
Starting on Memorial Day weekend the town has been hosting weekly entertainment as part of the Summer of Thanks 2012 campaign, including the OC Beach Lights show on Sunday nights and a fireworks display on Tuesday nights.
The OC Beach Lights entails a five-story tall inflatable sphere featuring a visual laser, lighting, video and audio production that will have visibility from up and down the Boardwalk. Each show is eight minutes long and there will be three shows per night at 9:30, 10 and 10:30 p.m.
“I am very exciting about what’s happening,” Bob Rothermel of T.E.A.M Productions said this week.
According to Rothermel, there were 17,000 to 20,000 people in attendance between the three laser light shows last Sunday and in excess of 10,000 people showed up to watch the fireworks on Tuesday night. He added that the numbers have been increasing in size every week.
“That is what we have seen in the last three weeks, a constant build of awareness,” Rothermel said.
Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones also thought the shows have been well received.
“While the times are later than usual, the goal of the program, in addition to thanking visitors with a free activity, was to spur business — get people on the Boardwalk and hope they stay after the show,” Jones said. “All in all, I haven’t heard any complaints from folks on the Boardwalk and visitors seem to love it.”
Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and Tourism Advisory Board Chair Melanie Pursel concurred that the feedback received over the events have been nothing but positive.
“We have done what we set out to do in terms of creating the buzz, the excitement, and giving people something else to do and to see, and really doing all we can to set ourselves apart from other beaches because nobody else has that,” she said.
Jones and Pursel both mentioned Gov. Martin O’Malley’s acknowledgment of the OC Beach Light show during a round-table meeting this week and how he expressed the excitement it created for him and his family.
Since the laser light shows have been underway, there have been ongoing discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on receiving permission to close the Ocean City Municipal Airport for the three 12-minute time intervals during the shows so that non-terminating lasers can be used verse terminating lasers. The FAA has been unwillingly to grant the request, however.
“What it does is reduce the scope of the event’s impact on visitors where if we could put the lasers into the air without restriction we could open up the show to many, many, many more blocks for visitors,” Rothermel said. “Now we have to concentrate it into a smaller footprint in order to keep the show effective and within the limits of what regulatory rules we have to follow.”
Once the season is over an evaluation, or “lessons learned”, will be held on the series of events and examine how or if they will be carried on into the future.