OCEAN CITY – The 2013 version of Winterfest of Lights saw a lower attendance than last year, but recorded a higher daily visitor average.
According to Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster, the 21st Annual Winterfest of Lights at Northside Park had 91,748 visitors in 42 days of operation, a 4-percent drop from 2012. The average daily attendance was 2,185.
“Although Winterfest was shorter than last year, our daily ridership was up by nearly 200 people per day which was excellent,” Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters. “Along with an outstanding daily ridership, the Winterfest New Year’s Eve Fireworks were a hit and brought out several thousand people to watch the show. Winterfest has truly become a valued holiday tradition for our residents and visitors. After 21 years, the tradition continues to grow.”
The 20th Annual Winterfest of Lights had 95,599 attendees, ranking the year of 2012 with the second highest attendance in the event’s history. The year prior, thanks to mild and dry weather, Winterfest broke records with 107,405 attendees.
When the 21st Annual Winterfest of Lights came to an end on New Year’s Day, Ocean City Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller explained there are a couple of factors playing into a decrease in attendance compared to 2012 when the Winterfest of Lights season had an extra week because Thanksgiving came early. Additionally, there were three weekends with foul weather in 2013.
On New Year’s Eve, Winterfest of Lights featured a fireworks show at midnight for the second year. The crowds starting filling in Northside Park’s parking lot as “DJ Kutt” started live music at 11 p.m.
Hours for Winterfest of Lights, which was recently named a prestigious Top 100 Event by American Bus Association and voted “Maryland’s Finest Holiday Tradition” by Maryland Life Magazine, were extended until midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Although there is not an official count of New Year’s Eve attendees because it is a free event, city officials estimate thousands enjoyed the show as Northside Park was jammed pack and people were seen in surrounding windows, balcony’s, and watching from nearby streets and community’s.
“I think fireworks on New Year’s Eve at Northside Park are growing, and I personally see an opportunity to continue that tradition here and grow it,” Miller said.