City Hoping To Bring More Visitors To Sunset Park

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s newest addition, Sunset Park,
located on South Division Street between Philadelphia Avenue and the bay and
completed in August of 2006, continues to evolve as future plans for the
downtown spot were discussed Tuesday morning at a Recreation and Parks
Committee meeting.

John Sullivan, Director of Special Events, came before
committee members to toss around a concept of his that he hoped would attract
more visitors to Sunset Park.

“What we are looking at is to create an event that will
bring people there and really introduce them to it and have them take an
ownership of it,” he said.

With events already planned to take place there throughout
the summer, such as concerts sponsored by the Ocean City Development
Corporation each month and a Family Fun Day sponsored by the National Aquarium
in Baltimore in June, Sullivan said he wanted take the idea of a concert and
run with it.

Presenting three different concepts, all a bit more
sophisticated than the last, Sullivan outlined how the concerts would be
planned and what they would entail.

The first concept is simple and straightforward. A band
would be selected to play for approximately 90 minutes to two hours and the
public is welcome to come by and relax, in their own beach chairs if they wish,
and enjoy the sunset and music with friends and family.

The second concept is where Sullivan’s idea for a concert
expands, becoming more than just a basic music show, and focuses on a theme in
which the park would adopt for the evening.

The theme would be an ethnic one where Sullivan envisions
a night full of music, food and dancing all based on cultures around the globe.
One such example would be a German night where an band would perform on stage
while a food vendor served up knockwurst, bratwurst and German beers.

Other ethnic themes mentioned included Irish, French,
Greek and Italian nights. For nights such as the French or Italian theme,
Sullivan said wine could be served alongside beer since it can be more popular
with those types of cuisines.

Since the goal is to use the assets of the park to its
fullest capabilities, Sullivan said the only thing that would be needed is a
vendor who would sell the food and alcohol. Decorations, such as small strings
of lights similar to the ones used in Italy, would also be implemented to set
the mood and invite the public to enjoy the night as if they were spending it
at a small town festival in Europe.

Lastly, Sullivan’s third concept is similar to the last
except the public would be required to furnish their own alcohol if they so
choose. Committee members were on board for all of Sullivan’s concepts except
the bring your own alcohol policy over concerns it opens the door to other dilemmas.

“You will have all kinds of stuff in there if you allow
them to bring their own alcohol,” committee member Joe Mitrecic said.

Committee member Jim Hall echoed the sentiment, saying how
some will buy in bulk and bring their alcohol in coolers instead of purchasing
it for a higher price from a an onsite vendor.

Hall also said allowing the public to bring their own
alcohol will make policing the event for underage drinkers that much harder
since the vendor would not be controlling who gets the alcohol by checking

Committee members then decided the best concept would be
Sullivan’s second, that way the town would have control over the alcohol being
distributed, alleviating most officials’ concerns.

“I’m okay with trying to increase the use down in Sunset
Park,” committee member Lloyd Martin said. “I think it’s a good idea and I
think it will open the door again for expansion.”

As of now, the events are tentatively planned to take
place on Monday, July 30 and Monday, Aug. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. and will serve
as a type of pilot program to see if events of this nature will be able to
attract crowds to the park.

to Sullivan, Monday nights were chosen as the night of the event since most
other nights already have family oriented activities falling in those time
slots. Sullivan hopes Mondays will be more appealing to locals since weekend
day trippers will have already gone home, freeing up space downtown.