On-Beach Movies, Family Olympics Among 2008 Proposals

OCEAN CITY –Ocean City will be seeing the addition of two summer beach activities in 2008, activities that aim to be both family and value oriented.

The Mayor and City Council approved the concept and funding for a family movie night and a family beach Olympics night this week, activities that are to be held on the beach throughout the summer, for free.

Both activities will be held on 27th Street along the beach throughout July and August, providing value-based, family entertainment. Movie night will be held on Monday and Friday nights, from about 7 to 10 p.m. and will offer activities for the kids, followed by the screening of a G- or PG-rated movie on an inflatable big screen. Family beach Olympics will also be held on 27th Street, but on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Activities will range from tug of war to sandcastle building contests for the entire family.

Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster and Recreation Superintendent Kate Gaddis presented the proposal this week to both the Recreation and Parks Committee and the Mayor and City Council. Shuster explained that the idea was born after a staff summit that was held this fall.

“In the process we identified some areas in which we wanted to improve,” Shuster said, explaining that many voices expressed a desire for more value-based, family oriented entertainment.

The family movie night, to be held twice a week at 27th Street, centers on the purchase of an inflatable movie screen. Gaddis anticipates the purchase of a 16’ by 9’ screen, which can be easily set up and removed from the beach. The 94-pound screen will be easily portable for the Recreation and Parks Department, which allows for easy use of the screen throughout town.

“I envision being able to use this in the winter too with the kids,” Gaddis said, noting that the screen will easily fit indoors at Northside Park or the Convention Center for winter activities. “There are a lot of fun things we could do with this. We could take it anywhere really, it’s so portable,” Gaddis continued.

Although the idea of movies on the beach was originally pitched as a way to attract more people downtown, 27th Street has been projected as the ideal location for the activity.

“It’s probably the most attractive and safe place,” Shuster said, explaining that the proximity of the restroom facilities, electrical outlets, and safe drop-off, make it an ideal location.

Others pointed out similar reasons for choosing the location of the summer events.

“If you did it downtown, you have more noise and light pollution,” added City Manager Dennis Dare. “At 27th Street you have a number of large hotels close by so you have a lot of walk-up potential.”

Shuster and Gaddis originally planned for the movie night to be a “parents’ night out.” Parents would drop their kids off at 27th Street, and come back later to pick them up. Parents would be required to register their children and staff would be in charge of keeping the kids within an enclosed area.

The idea was to provide free babysitting for parents and allow for them to have a night of children-free fun at the same time.

“Part of what makes it value-added is the opportunity for parents to do something else,” said Gaddis.

Several members of the Recreation and Parks committee voiced concerns however, noting safety and control as a few of their concerns.

“I think your opening a huge can of worms, value added or not,” said Joe Mitrecic. The committee unanimously agreed to make the change from parent’s night out to family movie night, eliminating the option to drop children off.

Both activities were presented to the Mayor and Council Tuesday afternoon, and received favorable response from the Mayor and Council.

“I think it sounds like a great concept,” said Council member Nancy Howard. Howard suggested that all hotels in the area of 27th Street be contacted.

Shuster requested that $14,460 of direct expenses be included in the FY 2008/2009 budget for the implementation of both events, which includes $13,500 for the purchase of the movie system.

“We’ll have something for every night except Saturday,” said Shuster, explaining that with the addition of the two events, there will be a value-based activity available every night on the beach this summer.

“This is fabulous, I just love this idea,” said Council member Margaret Pillas.

The council voted unanimously, with Council member Jay Hancock absent, to approve the proposal.