OCEAN CITY – Ongoing discussions were held during Tuesday’s Recreation and Parks Commission meeting that concluded in the OC Vintage License Plate Rally asking for more town support, partnering Mother’s Day and Springfest in 2015, moving a horseback riding service initiative on the beach to the City Council without a favorable recommendation from the commission and a review of the proposed 2014 OC Air Show dates.
License Plate Rally
Seeks Town Support
Representing the Downtown Association, Nancy Howard, a former Ocean City councilwoman, came before the commission to report on the OC Vintage License Plate Rally and Drive in Disguise event that took place on Saturday, Oct. 19, and asked for additional town support.
For the third year in a row, residents and visitors with a vintage Ocean City license plate drove down the Boardwalk during the annual OC Vintage License Plate Rally. This year, a new dimension of Drive in Disguise, was added and allowed anyone wishing to decorate their car to ride down the Boardwalk also.
This year there were 56 registered OC Vintage License Plate cars and five Drive in Disguise cars. The first place winner was “Yellow Brick Road” with the passengers dressed as Wizard of Oz characters. The Downtown Association sent out 300 postcards notifying OC license plate holders of the event, Howard said, which ended up being costly. She hopes to receive financial support from the Ocean City Tourism Advisory Board in the future to help with costs promoting the event.
“I had to beg every inch of the way to get information out to the public,” Howard said. “The city wanted to expand this to a larger group of people, offering it up and making it a big deal, but we couldn’t get out the word.”
In seeking better communication with the town, Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller has stepped up as the town’s point person to work with the Downtown Association in bettering the rally.
Commission Chair Councilman Joe Mitrecic pointed out the rally is held the same day as the Making Strides fundraising event, which is a large event held on the Boardwalk to raise funds to support breast cancer awareness. He suggested either changing the date or time of the rally to later in the evening.
“If this all does work out into an overall event for the Town of Ocean City allowing myself as the point of contact to oversee how the event plays out, I think that will alleviate a lot of these concerns, and I think it will be beneficial to the town,” Miller said.
The commission agreed to pass forward a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and City Council to appoint Miller as the town’s contact person to work with the Downtown Association on the event.
2015 Springfest, Mother’s
Day Cross Promotion Eyed
When the commission met last month, the 2015 Town Sponsored Special Event Schedule was presented. A concern arose over Springfest falling on the same weekend, May 7-10, as Mother’s Day is traditionally held, and the commission voted to table the schedule until further research over the conflict was conducted.
This week staff returned the schedule to the commission after polling the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA), Tourism Director Donna Abbott and 2013 Springfest vendors.
The boards of the Chamber and OCHMRA responded they felt Springfest weekend is historically a slow time in Ocean City anyhow with the summer season not quite kicking off yet. However, the boards are willing to support an overall Mother’s Day and Springfest promotion for that weekend in Ocean City as long as there is a coordinated effort.
Out of 250 Springfest vendors emailed, 57 responded. Those who have attended a festival on Mother’s Day weekend replied the impact is normally positive to the event and for the vendors.
Abbott also thought it would be a good idea to promote Mother’s Day alongside Springfest 2015 to draw visitors to Ocean City.
The commission was in consensus to pass forward a favorable recommendation to the full council.
For Horseback RFP
In 2011, Councilman Brent Ashley brought forward the idea of allowing horseback riding on the beach as an off-season promotion and the council approved the concept as well as horse and carriage rides downtown. Horseback riding is allowed from 27th Street south to the South Jetty at the Inlet from Nov. 1 to March 30.
Following the first successful off-season with horseback riding on the beach, in late August of 2012 Ashley asked to have staff prepare a RFP for a vendor to offer pony and/or horse led rides on the beach south of the pier to the Inlet. He also suggested including in the RFP the possibility of adults renting horses from the vendor for riding on the beach without any leads because there were many requests for this service last year.
The council voted unanimously to approve the RFP process for pony led rides and horse rentals.
Last week Ashley questioned City Manager David Recor why the RFP had not been brought forward before the council, and the matter was promptly scheduled to be reviewed during this week’s commission meeting.
Recor explained the RFP Scope of Service is outlined to include, horseback riding, guided rides, school programs, community programs and therapeutic riding. Having pony-led rides south of the Pier and horseback riding north of the pier was not distinguished in the RFP if the commission wanted to make that change, Recor said.
Recor added, when horseback riding was initially brought up it was proposed as shoulder season activity, and an idea to increase business in the off-season. Initially it was based to have a permit process to allow independent horse owners to ride, but now it is being proposed to have a concessionaire to allow horses for rent.
According to Recor, in the first year six permits were issued for horseback riding on the beach and last year there were none.
“If you talk to anyone who owns a horse, walking a horse on the beach isn’t the best thing for the horse itself,” Mitrecic said. “I wasn’t here when this came up and I don’t necessarily support this myself, but if we are going to do a RFP for horseback riding on the beach we are going to do an RFP for carriage rides on the Boardwalk, and anything else that is equine related.”
The commission agreed to forward the RFP to City Solicitor Guy Ayres for review. However, the commission was not in favor of forwarding a recommendation to approve.
Air Show Date Proposed
Brian Lilley of Ocean City Air Show LLC has proposed Saturday, June 14- Sunday, June 15, 2014 to hold the OC Air Show downtown.
Miller explained businessman Hale Harrison and his lodging and restaurant company, Harrison Group, have expressed concerns over that weekend because it will overlap with the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Convention scheduled for June 15-18, 2014 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.
Town-sponsored events also scheduled to be held that weekend is Art’s Alive and Wine in the Park at Northside Park.
Mitrecic asked Miller if all the events being held that weekend would spread the Special Events Department too thin.
“It gives us the opportunity to wean ourselves off of the Air Show a little bit more. The Special Events Department is dedicated to Art’s Alive and Wine in the Park primarily, and it allows the Air Show to be more of just a larger scale private event rather than the town having their hands in it so much,” said Miller. “Considering the fact the Dew Tour goes off with very little interaction with Special Events, from our perspective we are ok with it.”
Councilman Dennis Dare pointed out a potential conflict with parking at the convention center as it is used for parking for the Air Show and Firemen’s Association, and the issue may remove Air Show parking at the convention center from the deal. However, Dare said the dates requested are likely due to military team availability.
“The promoter wouldn’t be offering these dates unless he has a pretty good idea that he is going to be able to deliver,” Dare said.
The commission moved forward the tentative OC Air Show dates to the full council.