OCEAN CITY – Thousands of visitors in bikinis could be marching along the north end of Ocean City’s beach this summer if a proposed bikini parade comes to fruition.
As proposed, the idea behind it would be to break the current Guinness World Record while simultaneously enhancing tourism for the northern part of the resort.
According to Councilman Brent Ashley, bikini parades have been conducted around the world at such locales as San Diego, Las Vegas, Cayman Islands, Gold Coast of Australia, and just last week in Panama City Beach where a Guinness World Record was set with 450 parade participants.
Ashley said that he and fellow Councilman Joe Hall have presented the concept to the newly formed North Ocean City Business Alliance, which would be charged with carrying out the idea.
In honor of the year, Ashley said the idea is to have 2,012 participants in the parade and have a representative from Guinness World Records present in order to certify the record breaking moment.
Though the event is only in its planning stages, there has even been some thought about inviting celebrities, local or national, to join the parade or judge.
Ashley added history shows that bikini parades have been used as a marketing tool for other destinations and have received worldwide attention.
“It is really a big thing, it is basically a world-class event because it has been done in other countries and it is all done in good fun,” he said. “It would promote tourism tremendously. If we have 2,000 participants, we are going to have who knows how many people watching it.”
Greene Turtle North owner Steve Pappas, one of the founders of the alliance, has been handed the reins in organizing the event.
Pappas said Monday that the parade route will be from the Clarion Hotel on 101st Street to the Carousel Hotel on 117th Street. A small fee will be charged to participate, which will be donated to a selected charity.
“We are not out to make money out of it,” Pappas said. “It is not going to be a for-profit event for us. We are hoping it attracts visitors and people who want to see the parade.”
Along with the participation of other businesses in the area, the event could be promoted as a weekend event. Pappas said the best time to hold the bikini parade would be toward the end of the season to help keep establishments busy as the town starts to empty out.
“I have been in Ocean City for 35 years and that has always been the slower time of the year for us,” he said. “It is the last few weeks in August because kids go back to school earlier and earlier each year.”
Pappas is no stranger when it comes to creating events to keep the busy summer season going. It was 21 years ago that he began a lacrosse tournament in Ocean City on the third weekend in August. Since that time, the tournament has grown from having four teams participate to 120 and is the second largest lacrosse tournament in the country.
“So we did something pretty good and we did it at a great time period because it generated some money for the businesses, all of the businesses,” he said.
The bikini parade comes along with a list of other events the North Ocean City Business Alliance is proposing to draw more attention to the north end of town.
“The North Ocean City Business Alliance is not just for north Ocean City, it is to create tourism and special events in Ocean City,” Pappas said. “Special events are mostly towards the south end of town … we are trying to bring some things up north because north Ocean City has a lot to offer and we want to let people know that.”
The bikini parade is being considered a family event as all ages are invited to participate and prizes will be offered for the various age groups. Other destinations have had participants as young as three years old up to 80.
As far as Ocean City maintaining its family oriented image, there are no concerns among the two elected officials who proposed the concept.
“I don’t see it as being an issue,” Ashley said. “The bikinis are on the beach anyway. This is all for charity, this is not anything wild … we are all about selling fantasy and fun here, and this fits right into that.”
Joe Hall agreed that bikinis are nothing new in Ocean City.
“I don’t see our family image being tarnished by the parade,” he said. “I actually think it is part of Ocean City’s heritage. The goal is to bring vitality to the community through a fun event, and that is the goal of all special events.”