This Maryland General Assembly session finally started to heat up this week with some movement on some bills of consequence. On the local front, this year’s session has been uneventful for the most part. However, it’s often said the last month is the only time worth paying attention to with the legislature. That seems to be true this year. Perhaps the most high-profile measure being considered by the legislature is the state smoking ban. It may not be the one with the biggest impact on residents’ purse strings, but it’s legislation with huge social ramifications and everyday consequences for some. For the first time ever, the bill got out of committee this week, as the Senate Finance Committee and its counterpart in the House both voted to send it to the floor of the respective chambers. Insiders say the bill will have an easy time now that it’s out of committee and before the entire legislature.
It had been a couple years since I had partaken in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. I was reminded last Saturday why that should never happen again because this is a day unlike any other in Ocean City. I don’t usually like to speak in superlatives, but this is my favorite day to be in Ocean City, thanks largely to the efforts of the Delmarva Irish-American Club, which organizes the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the state and the big festival at the 45th Street Village. By the time I got to the 45th Street Village on a chilly Saturday about 11 a.m., it was a sea of green. Off The Boat was playing Whiskey In A Jar. City Manager Dennis Dare was serving up a Guinness. Mayor Rick Meehan took a break from pouring beer to do a television interview. City Council President Joe Mitrecic was working the tap of a beer truck. Macky’s had the Irish coffee drinks flowing. The lines were long for the corned beef as well as the apparel. All sorts of people, as well as the dogs, were wearing their green. The lines were building for the restrooms. The sidewalks were filling up awaiting the start of the parade. It’s a scene unlike any other in Ocean City, and I think it’s wonderful for a number of reasons including the fact you can enjoy a Nutty Irishman at 11 a.m. and not feel the least bit guilty about it. Or maybe that’s just me, but it’s comforting to know there were hundreds of other folks doing the same thing on a cold Saturday in March.
To businesses in this area, the calendar is critical. There’s no better example than last weekend. The annual parade and festival is always held on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. It was originally held on St. Patrick’s Day, but was quickly altered to always fall on the weekend so the children could enjoy the spectacle. This year was one of those instances when the “holiday” fell on Saturday so the parade was held on the same day. Good timing, some may say, while others say the timing is not so great. Most businesses we spoke to last week confirm that’s the less than ideal scenario because it’s only a one-day affair. When the parade is on a Saturday and St. Patrick’s Day is during the week, that’s perfect for area businesses because it’s a two-day celebration that allows businesses to get a double hit in a slow time of year. It’s a similar philosophy with the Fourth of July. Businesses in town would rather see it fall during the week because it makes it a two-weekend affair. The good news is this year Independence Day falls on a Wednesday.
In other news, a conscientious Montego Bay resident came into the office this week to protect his community. He said the paper recently misidentified the tragic double fatal fire and a drug overdose as taking place in Montego Bay. The resident was right and we were wrong. The three deaths appeared near the community, but not within it. We apologize for the errors.