OCEAN CITY – The North Ocean City Business Alliance held its third meeting yesterday at the Carousel Hotel where progress was made in planning new events for the northern part of the resort.
With events continually being requested and approved in the downtown area of Ocean City, a coalition of northern business owners formed the alliance to ensure the north end is getting its fair share in terms of marketing and promotion.
Owner of the Greene Turtle on 116th Street, Steve Pappas started off by saying the group is well on its way in accomplishing its early goals.
Pappas said the alliance’s voice has been heard and it has been recognized that Ocean City does not stop at the end of the Boardwalk. Also, the alliance is working with leading tourism partners, such as the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Mayor and City Council.
“We also have three events already slated,” Pappas said.
BJ’s on the Water owner Billy Carder reviewed the progress made on a piece of legislation that would allow a beer and wine festival to be held in the northern end of town.
Sen. Jim Mathias submitted legislation last month in Annapolis allowing Worcester County to hold three festivals per year selling alcohol to go. Currently, only one is allowed, and that’s the annual Wine Fest at the Beach held in September in Ocean City.
Senate Bill 1075 authorized the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners to issue not more than three special alcohol festival licenses each year. The bill has passed through the Senate in a 46-0 vote, as well as the House in a 138-0 vote.
According to Carder, Northside Park had dates available this June for such an event but after speaking to Jerry Hardesty, who organizes the Annapolis and Ocean City wine festivals, it would take at least four to five months to organize a wine festival in north Ocean City.
“It is a moot point because we can’t do it this year, and there is a wine fest already scheduled for Ocean City this fall,” he said. “It is on board and it can be done and there is a list of things we have to do but I’m anxious to say that it is all in the works and there is no reason we can’t do it.”
Carder then introduced Roger Marino, Corporate Community Relations Director of Mountaire, who proposed to hold the annual Delmarva Chicken Festival at Northside Park.
“Once everything gets put together, it probably won’t be until 2014,” Marino said.
The Delmarva Chicken Festival is entering its 63rd event and is held in June of every year. Over the years, it has grown into a national event where even the Food Network participates.
“The idea is that the whole town goes chicken,” Marino said.
The alliance came to a consensus to move forward in having the Delmarva Chicken Festival in Ocean City as soon as possible. The event was last held in Worcester County in Berlin more than a decade ago.
Next, Brad Hoffman of Spark Productions presented a progress update on the proposed Bikini Parade happen in north Ocean City.
The concept is to break Panama City Beach’s Guinness World Record of 450 parade participants. Ocean City is shooting for 2,012 participants, in honor of the year.
The Bikini Parade is proposed to be held Aug. 25 starting at noon on the south side of the Clarion Hotel and move north to the Carousel Hotel. A registration kickoff event plans to be held the day before at BJ’s, and the weekend will wrap up with an event the evening of the parade at the Blue Ox.
Hoffman added that the Bikini Parade is family oriented where there is no age limit set. The plan is to donate $2 of every registration fee to the American Cancer Society, Diakonia and the Surfrider Foundation.
“We are trying to have an event but tie in the business community so that the registers are ringing and hopefully people will make it a destination, that is what they come down for,” Hoffman said. “I see every year it getting bigger and bigger in celebration of what we do have. We have a beautiful beach, we have a beautiful ocean and it goes along with that.”
The alliance directed Hoffman to move forward with the Bikini Parade and to write a proposal so that costs can be discussed.
The last event discussed involved Ocean City event organizer Bob Rothermel, who was not present for the meeting, and no action was made.
In February, Rothermel was approved to move forward in a summer family entertainment series funded by the remainder of the tourism Advisory Boards’ funds, $170,000. Part of the series was a laser light show to be held downtown on the beach every Sunday night during the summer.
Carousel Managing Partner Michael James said that Rothermel had proposed also having three, 10-minute laser light shows at Northside Park on Monday nights in the summer and would cost close to $50,000.
Pappas was concerned that Monday nights at Northside Park would not draw enough of an audience to spend the money on the show.
“Part of our goal was to work with the city, this is not a North Ocean City Alliance event, this is a city event,” James said.