Campaign Targeting Beach Drinking Not Needed

The Ocean City Mayor and Council voted this week to embark on a public awareness campaign of unknown lengths reminding residents and visitors the beach is an alcohol-free zone.
This is a perfect example of making a greater issue out of something that’s not a major problem currently in Ocean City. By and large, there are little alcohol-related events on the beach and most of the vacationers and locals imbibing are respectful and peaceful. In case the decision makers have forgotten, having a cold beer on a beach is a wonderful thing and a coveted piece of a vacation for people who spend a lot of money to be here. Yes, it’s illegal, but putting together a public reminder campaign during this summer of all times is misguided and a waste of resources.
With all the current issues facing Ocean City, specifically public safety fears along the Boardwalk at certain periods during the night, the council looks foolish by issuing public messages on this issue of all matters.
The fact is the Ocean City Beach Patrol is well aware people consume alcohol on the beach. However, lifeguards understand it’s harmless in many cases and most of the time in fact it’s just that. The beach patrol understands it’s happening, but prefers to focus on the ocean and saving lives rather than disrupting vacationers who are imbibing without hurting anyone else.
The fact is with rare exceptions it’s not an issue in Ocean City. There are plenty of other matters that deserve attention and lumping this in with the decency issue that Councilman Brent Ashley has been championing for the last couple months is a misstep.
“From a public safety perspective and in order to maintain a family friendly atmosphere and to return more decency to our beach, I would suggest that we begin a public awareness campaign to actively inform all visitors that we will have a zero tolerance policy towards alcohol or public intoxication on our beach,” Ashley said. “Such a campaign could include but not be limited to, large signs on the beach, messages on our reader boards in town and the entrances into town, as well as messages on the government cable channel. Perhaps messages could be displayed on the buses and trams as well.”
It’s fine to issue reminders, but the city should not spend any financial resources on a heavy-handed, zero-tolerance campaign. Additionally, there should be no special police details or lifeguards assigned to scope out beach areas for alcohol in red Solo cups. There are plenty of other things that should be on the city’s radar than stopping the mom and dad who want to have a beer or a wine cooler on the beach while their kids jump waves and play in the beach or the senior citizen enjoying a beverage while he reads a book.
This is just not a major issue and to make it into something that it’s not is inappropriate and unnecessary. It portrays Ocean City as having a problem that does not exist and a unanimous vote to move forward with such a campaign makes us question the common sense factor at City Hall.