OC’s New Family Events A Success, Officials Say

summer’s addition of two family-friendly events have been a success in their
first year, city officials said this week, bringing hundreds of families out to
the beach during the evenings to enjoy Movies on the Beach and Family Olympics.

Recreation Supervisor
Kate Gaddis reported the success of both Movies on the Beach and Family
Olympics this week, noting strong turnouts, good weather and happy families.

“All in all the events
have been wonderful.  The people appear to be so happy and enjoying
their time with their families and friends,” said Gaddis.

Gaddis estimated that
over the nine movie night showings on the beach so far this summer, between
3,500 and 4,000 people have turned out. Weather assisted in the free event,
with only one movie date rained out in early June.

Family Olympics or
Family Beach Games also saw strong crowds, with Gaddis estimating over 150
families participating over five nights this summer.

The idea for movies on
the beach was first broached last summer, when Rob Herting of Sunset Cinemas,
Inc., came before the Mayor and Council in an attempt to sell the Sunset Cinema
Movies on the Beach idea for the 2008 summer season.

Herting’s proposal called
for a showing of first-run movies on the beach, on a nightly basis throughout
the summer. The movies would be projected on a 52-foot, inflatable, drive-in
size movie screen with Dolby Digital surround sound. The idea essentially was
to bring back the charm of the drive-in movie theatre but in the form of a
“walk-in”, beach theater.

Although the Mayor and
Council showed support for the idea in theory, they were cautious to put their
full support behind the proposal without first examining the logistics and
letting other town officials review the proposal.

A meeting of the minds
at a Recreation and Parks meeting last year left the proposal dead in the
water, so to speak, with little support from town officials.

Several concerns arose
regarding the out-of-town business venture, including beach maintenance,
clean-up, safety and the potential competition with local businesses along the

Although the proposal
for nightly, first-run movies on the beach was not warmly embraced, town
officials were able to get on-board with the Recreation and Parks proposal for
free movies on the beach.

Gaddis and Recreation
and Parks Director Tom Shuster presented the idea earlier this year, along with
another idea for a family-friendly, free activity – Family Olympics.

The aim behind both
events was to provide free events for families to take advantage of while
vacationing in Ocean
City. The 27th Street
beach was ultimately chosen as the location for both events, after reviewing
various options throughout town.

The purchase of a
16-foot by 9-foot, 94-pound screen was approved by the Mayor and Council to be
used Monday and Friday nights for Movies on the Beach at 27th Street.

The easily portable
screen will be used throughout the year by the Recreation and Parks Department,
as it can be easily relocated and set up throughout town.

While the event does not
feature first-run movies, movie night provides activities for the kids,
followed by a G-rated or PG-rated movie on the inflatable big screen. Movies
such as Shrek 2 and 3, Happy Feet and Ice Age: The Meltdown graced the
beach-big screen this summer, to name a few.

Family Beach Games followed along the same lines, with free,
kid-based activities such as tug-of-war, relay contests and sandcastle building

Both events kicked off
earlier this year at the beginning of July and will wrap up next week.

Gaddis could not be more
pleased with the turnout, noting few complaints and numerous praises.

“We have gotten so many
wonderful words about the events, they have truly been a pleasure to run,” she