OCEAN CITY – Although it is good news that the town has filled its event calendar for next June, including the planned return of the Dew Tour, there are concerns that Ocean City may have bit off more than it can chew.
“There have been a substantial growth in the number and size of private events in June since 2008,” Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster said. “We need to look carefully at June 2013 because it poses a challenge for our ability to support the number of events already scheduled and those that are pending.”
So far, major events planned for downtown Ocean City on the June 2013 calendar are June 1-2, the Founders Entertainment Music Festival; the next weekend, June 8-9, is the OC Air Show and Longboard Challenge; the third weekend is a pending event, Beach Raid; and the last weekend is the proposed dates of the return of the Dew Tour, June 20-23, as well as the pending event of Beach 5 Sand Soccer.
Also, other events will be taking place throughout the month on the beach in the downtown area, such as Play It Safe activities, which may be effected the most by the congested event calendar.
Shuster explained that the conflict is with the setup and breakdown dates of the scheduled events. Even though they are planned in different locations the problem is the amount of support the town has agreed to give through the different departments, such as public works and emergency personnel.
“We will literally be having one big event coming off the beach as one big event is coming on the beach,” he said. “We have reached a tipping point where the events planned or contemplated for June 2013 may exceed our capabilities to support them in a successful manner from an internal perspective.
Shuster furthered that the town is in the position where some events may have to relocate to make room for the larger events coming on board in the month of June. For example, the pending soccer tournament is requesting the same space on the beach where the Dew Tour traditionally sets up.
“We may face a situation in which some of the things that are happening are going to displace some of the current uses or maybe displace some of the visitors who are planning on coming that time of the year,” he said.
Shuster was optimistic that the department was catching future issues in time to figure them out before next June.
“You may have heard the expression where it is tough to fit 10 pounds of sand into a five-pound bag, we may have reached the point where June of 2013 is that proverbial five-pound bag, and if we put 10 pounds of sand it we all know what happens, the bag rips,” he said. “We don’t want to be in that situation because there is a down side for both the event operators and the town if we are unable to deliver or support these events to become unsuccessful.”
Councilman Joe Hall looked at the problem as being a good thing and the town’s goal to create a mass in Ocean City that time of year is being reached.
“I think it is manageable and we need to continue to keep a can-do attitude even though it is a challenge, whether it’s a different location on the beach or address some of the town support,” Joe Hall said. “They [promoter] will have to do some contracted services to fill in for some of the support that the town currently does and make sure that they are doing their fair share of what they need to do out here on the beach and in the town.”
Shuster assured any issues are being worked on.
“We are doing everything in our power to accommodate as much as we can but at the same token we are going to have to have the support and cooperation among the groups to move some stuff around,” he said.
In other news, Recreation Supervisor Kate Gaddis reported the department’s summer camps this year were a success.
A couple of weeks ago, the department wrapped up nine weeks of summer camps. During that time 60 different sessions of camps were held varying in hours, price and activities. Activities ranged from traditional sports to fishing and surfing, which were two new programs this summer.
Last year a trend was noticed across the state with a decrease in participation of day camps but this summer the department’s day camp, Camp Horizon, participation increased by 24 percent putting the numbers back at the same level as they were in 2010.
“A few dips here and there but overall our camp numbers were up 8.6 percent, which we were really happy with, and we put over 2500 kids through camp in that nine week period,” Gaddis said. “We had great staff out there working and we were really happy with the success of it.”