One of the highlights of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Banquet was Al “Hondo” Handy’s acceptance speech. Earlier in the day, thanks to an interview by News Editor Bryan Russo, I learned something I never knew about Hondo, who also addressed the subject on Tuesday night at the banquet.
Hondo was among the first black students to make the decision to join the all-white Stephen Decatur High School back in the early-60s. As one would imagine, it was not an easy transition and one he admitted to regretting at first. Like he did at the awards banquet on Tuesday night, he shared his feelings about that time in his life. I got a kick out of how his mom handled his apprehension.
“One of the things I always remember is that after a few days of attending the school, coming home and pondering what I wanted to say to my mother. I thought about it all night, and I said in the morning ‘mom, I don’t know if I made the right decision to go to Decatur’ and she said, ‘son, you remember when you brought the paper home and we discussed it, and you decided to go? Well, you committed to the school, so since you made that commitment, you have to honor that commitment. And, your lunch is on the table.’ I always remember that, because that meant, forget it son, you are going,” Hondo recalled in the interview.
You can read more from the interview with Hondo in today’s paper and to hear the entire conversation with Russo click over to our website at www.mdcoastdispatch.com and you can listen to our new podcast.
For some time, the underutilization of Northside Park as a special events venue — outside of sports — has been discussed, and Ocean City has made progress in recent years toward changing that.
The Sundaes in the Park series is a staple at Northside Park for eight Sundays in the summer, but that could probably be expanded into late June or maybe even twice a week and still see nice crowds. Also, there’s Art’s Alive that is hosted there in June and Winterfest of Lights, of course, dominates the park from November through January when set-up and dismantling are considered.
During this week’s Tourism Commission, Northside Park was broached again by Mayor/Acting City Manager Rick Meehan and Councilman Dennis Dare. Meehan said he thinks “something a little more permanent up there, especially on that little hill that creates sort of a natural bandstand” would be a nice addition. Dare added, “That soccer field at the west end near the flag monument is where I envision a bandstand of some sort. The spectators could watch the concert from the field and then turn around and watch the fireworks.”
Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melanie Pursel added support to that exciting concept, saying, “It could be something that becomes like The Freeman Stage. The amount of people that attend those shows is unbelievable. It could be the beginning of something.”
Any discussion of boosting Northside Park’s presence on the events’ front behooves the city. A large block of residents as well as visitors do not want to fight the crowds and traffic to get to the downtown area for the weekday free events and they would welcome additional events at the park.
The steady growth of the Sundaes in the Park weekly event proves the demand is there.
If it seems like gasoline prices are about as low as they have been in recent years, it’s because they are.
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic Gas Watch, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Salisbury was $2.23 on Sept. 17, compared to $2.28 one week ago; $2.36 one month; and $3.36 one year ago.
The 100,000 bikers in the area this weekend should find the cheaper gas and sunny, mild weekend weather outlook particularly appealing.
The Boardwalk tram season should run as long as possible on the weekends so long as it makes sense financially. I have always wondered why it was shuttered after Labor Day weekend traditionally. It seems to me taking a wait-and-see approach based on weather would be reasonable through at least September and maybe even through Columbus Day weekend.
The decision should be considered just like every private business makes this time of year as far as operating hours. In the fall, particularly after Sunfest, businesses start closing down during the weekdays to protect their bottom line. They are open when it’s worthwhile and closed when it’s not. It’s a simple matter really for veteran businesses that can look back at previous years’ data, but it can be tricky in the early days for new businesses that might not be as familiar with the drastic volume differences from the weekdays to the weekends.
I like the idea of keeping the tram running through at least Sunfest weekend every year. This year’s extended season’s ridership numbers seem to support it dependent on the weather, of course.