OCEAN CITY – The popular laser light and firework shows downtown last summer have been given the go-ahead to continue on into the summer of 2013.
Tourism Director Donna Abbott presented the Mayor and City Council with a request to approve the recommendation made by the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) to continue last summer’s weekly fireworks and laser light shows on the beach downtown.
According to Abbott, TAB reviewed T.E.A.M Productions’ proposal to continue the shows this summer, and the board voted unanimously to send a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and City Council to move forward with the plan.
Abbott furthered that TAB is allocated $300,000 per fiscal year starting in 2012, and the council had previously voted to carry surplus funds from the board’s budget last year into this fiscal year. If the council were to move forward with the series of events into 2013, TAB would be left with a balance of $171,500 for this fiscal year.
“It was a tremendous experience for our visitors last year and we think it enhanced their vacation experience,” Abbott said of the events.
T.E.A.M Productions’ series of events began last year with a tribute and presentation of a “Big Flag” on Memorial Day Weekend. The event, which has been held in Ocean City in the past, was the unfurling of a football field-size American Flag held up by participants and was visible up and down the Boardwalk. The presentation resulted in 1,300 likes on the town’s Facebook page within five hours after the event.
“It was huge,” Rothermel of T.E.A.M productions said of the attention received. “I have never seen anything like it.”
Starting on Memorial Day, seven-minute laser shows ran every Sunday concluding on Labor Day weekend with a show on both Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend. There were two shows rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Also, during that time frame there were fireworks shows that ran every Tuesday with one date rescheduled due to rain. During the Dew Tour in July, the shows were reformatted, consisting of lower level fireworks and aerial lasers.
“We saw 10,000-plus easy every time we were doing a show in the beach,” Rothermel said.
He added that there is no way of knowing how many social hits were created from the fireworks and laser light shows, but “it had to be huge” with the amount of people capturing the scene on their cell phones.
The series of events concluded in October with OCtoberfest that took place Oct. 19-21 and Oct. 26-28. A beach maze was built in the area of N. Division St. with a large “OC’ posted in the center. The maze was open both weekends with the last day being cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. The maze had over 6,000 attendees.
“Families were very thankful to go through something that was free,” Rothermel said. “We had costume characters inside, nothing too scary or too lame.”
There was also a Halloween costume Pet Parade held on Oct. 20 where there were over 50 pets and hundreds if human spectators. The final event was the pumpkin races held on Oct. 27 where 10 racers participated with close to a hundred spectators cheering them on.
“I really think this has something to it in the future, it will just take time to build,” Rothermel said of the pumpkin races. “It was just a smile watching people try to race pumpkins. If Delaware can make them fly, we can make them run.”
Rothermel proposed to have the fireworks and laser light show one time per week from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The fall events of the beach maze, pet parade and pumpkin races will continue as done last year.
New this summer will be the addition of a second fireworks show downtown on the beach starting after July 4 to run through Labor Day, for eight weeks, as well as a fireworks show at Northside Park on select evenings that would also run for eight weeks beginning after July 4.
However, the series of events will not start off with the “Big Flag” this year. Instead, there will be a patriotic laser light show on Memorial weekend.
Rothermel concluded the budget of $275,000 to operate all the events would be the same as last year.
“We think we can do it the same with the lessons that we learned last year on how to structure those events on the beach I think we can do some additional shows for the same money,” he said.
Councilman Brent Ashley thanked Rothermel and T.E.A.M Productions for promoting Ocean City.
“It was a terrific, exciting and fresh idea,” he said.
Councilman Doug Cymek said he had talked to business owners on the Boardwalk who had expressed their appreciation for the free events.
“They wanted to let the council know, and yourself as well, that during these events their business was up tremendously,” he said.
The council voted unanimously to continue T.E.A.M Productions series of events into the summer of 2013.
“I was fortunate enough to be at most of those venues during the summer time and the crowds were terrific,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “I too heard about business being up on those nights, and I saw the energy …”