Winterfest Riders Down, But Exceed 15-Year Average

OCEAN CITY – Although the 2007-2008 Winterfest of Lights came to an end earlier this month, the event is still glowing with the report of another successful year and increased revenues.

Ocean City Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster reported this week that the Winterfest of Lights brought in more than 80,000 people to ride through the displays.

The 15th annual event kicked off on Nov. 15 with an opening ceremony and concluded on Jan. 1. The temperate weather aided the event, with only seven evenings of rain or light snow.

According to Shuster, 86,844 people boarded the Boardwalk trams during the 48-night show to enjoy the displays throughout Northside Park. Although the numbers didn’t reflect a record-breaking year, the numbers were still well above the average. The 15-year average for passengers is 77,057.

Although numbers exceeded the 15-year average, numbers were reportedly down from last year, which brought in 93,227 passengers.

“Last year really was a banner year,” Shuster said, noting that the unseasonably warm weather last year brought an increase in passengers. “The evening weather does affect the overall numbers.”

Despite a slight decrease in passengers this year, an overall revenue increase was reflected in the report. Total revenue, as of Jan. 3, was $368,659, which tops last year’s total revenue of $361,578.

The increase in revenue was due in large part to a significant increase in gift shop sales. The Yukon Cornelius Gift Shop sales totaled $74,242, which was well above last year’s total sales of $50,903. Shuster attributed the increase to new merchandise displayed in the shops this year, adding that the staff does a great job with the gift shop.

Photos with Santa also increased this year with a $2,311 increase over last years’ sales. With the absence of Santa at the White Marlin Mall, more families made the trip to Northside Park to visit Santa, Shuster said.

“The staff of the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Department of Public Works and all other employees and volunteers who worked on this year’s Winterfest of Lights are to be congratulated for their efforts in support of this successful and well received program,” Shuster said.

Only one complaint was fielded this year in regards to the Winterfest entertainment, but the staff is currently working to solve the issue and be a good neighbor to nearby residents.