Town Could Seek ‘X-Games’ Type of Event in 2009

OCEAN CITY –Ocean City could be seeing a new family and youth oriented event in the summer of 2009, a citywide event that would target families and promote action sports.

The concept for OC Beachfest was presented last week at a tourism commission meeting, an event that promises to be “three days of action sports at the beach.”

Action sports are on the rise and have been for many years as events such as the X-Games become increasingly popular. OC Beachfest looks to capitalize on the ever-growing sector of action sports while utilizing what the town of Ocean City already has to offer, the beach and the bay.

OC Beachfest, which is tentatively scheduled for June 19-21, 2009, will include three days of professional and amateur sports. The three-day, citywide event would include surfing, skateboarding, bodyboarding, a 5k and half-marathon, paddleboarding, BMX and kiteboarding. Interactive activities, vendors, music, demos, entertainment, sports celebrities, health and fitness, and beach movies will also be featured over the course of the three-day event.

“There’ll be events like X-Games that are very successful events that are wrapped around action sports,” said event organizer Brad Hoffman.

The events would be spread throughout town, with the majority of the events centered at the Convention Center. The beach, bay and Ocean Bowl Skate Park would also be utilized. “It celebrates a lot of the natural resources that we have in Ocean City,” said Hoffman.

The event aims to attract the whole family, with contests and events for kids all ages and a half-marathon and 5-K for parents.

“We wanted to focus on events that were active,” said Hoffman, emphasizing the importance of getting kids active, outdoors, and excited about action sports. Pro athletes are also anticipated to be at the three-day event.

“These kids’ heroes are pro-skateboarders nowadays,” said Hoffman, describing how excited kids get at the chance to meet a pro skateboarder or surfer.

Hoffman and his team of organizers also hope to include schools in the event and have already received some positive feedback from area schools. Students would train for a particular physical fitness contest in school and participate in the final leg of their training at OC Beachfest.

OC Beachfest is intended to only cost the town in-kind services, with no additional price tag for the town. Hoffman noted that they hope to raise all of the necessary funds through the support of local businesses and national sponsors.

The tourism commission fully embraced the family oriented event, noting the potential crowds, the focus on activity-based fun for kids, and the low costs to the town.

The half-marathon arose concerns however, particularly the logistics of having hundreds or thousands of runners going through town on a Sunday in June.

The 13-mile half-marathon would occur mostly on the boardwalk and on the bayside of downtown, but runners would inevitably be crossing Coastal Highway and Baltimore Avenue, making police presence mandatory. City Manager Dennis Dare noted his concern for the amount of man hours and inevitable overtime that would be required to control the three hour race.

Despite the potential problems that need to be ironed out with the half-marathon, the commission fully embraced the event, voting unanimously to move forward with planning.

“I think it’s a great idea, I really do,” said City Council member Mary Knight.

“I just think this is awesome,” said Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Melanie Pursel, noting the benefit of promoting kids to get outdoors and active.

Susan Jones, Executive Director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant-Association, also showed support. “I think the mix of this has real potential and if we don’t embrace it we’re crazy,” she said.

“The more events we can get, the better off we’re going to be,” said hotelier and Economic Development Committee Chairman Dr. Leonard Berger.