Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Ocean City hit a home run on several fronts last summer when it hosted a tall ship for the first time, and it makes good sense for the town to look to expand on that success for the upcoming season.

Last year a tall ship was here for about two weeks and created a huge traditional media and social media buzz. The vistas of the tall ship entering Ocean City as well as leaving were, in my opinion, some of the best non-storm related images ever captured of Ocean City. It was an exposure bonanza for Ocean City in the summer season and almost all of it was free.

That’s why it was welcome news to hear Ocean City will likely this summer be hosting two tall ships, which may or may not be arriving in local waters at the same time. The mere prospect of seeing the same tall ship that was here last year partnered with a smaller replica of Magellan’s vessel entering Ocean City together is exciting. This is not to mention the fact there was solid interest in paying a fee to tour the ship while it was here as well.

The possibility of two tall ships being docked in Ocean City for a month this summer seems like it would come with some logistical headaches, but city officials do not seem to be fazed by them. If the city and promoter can pull this off, it should be a great special event addition to the summer calendar.

I got stuck in the traffic backup from the sobriety checkpoint on Saturday evening near the Route 50 Bridge and, since I was not driving at the time, I immediately posted an “FYI” about it on this publication’s Facebook page. After all, spreading breaking news is part of the job description here.

The reaction to the post was mixed. Some called the post unprofessional and ignorant, while others were appreciative of the information and lauded the heads up. The majority were happy to receive the advance warning, including one woman, who like me, had to get home to relieve a babysitter, but it was the minority who took umbrage over the post that were the most verbose, as is usually the case on social media.

In hindsight, the only thing I wish I had done differently was specifically date the post because it had to be removed the next day due to rampant confusion and people thinking the post was more current than it actually was, despite the hours ago being clear. The post was simple and read, “Route 50 Bridge backed up leaving Ocean City due to sobriety checkpoint for those in town.”

The intent of the post was questioned with much venom, and I feel the need to explain. My vehicle was stuck for about 15 minutes in traffic until getting through the checkpoint. It turns out we were fortunate. One horror story included a missed dinner reservation at a West Ocean City restaurant on the busiest day of the year thus far because it took 45 minutes to get from downtown Ocean City to Golf Course Road, a trip that should have taken under 10 minutes.

The purpose of the post was to simply advise why traffic was so terribly backed up and nothing to do with encouraging drunk drivers to go another route. That’s a silly assumption to make actually. It was never my intention to encourage those lame-brained enough to be inebriated and get behind the wheel to go another route.

It’s worth pointing out law enforcement agencies, in this case the Maryland State Police, inform the media about checkpoints being held on a routine basis. Some releases even state exactly where the checkpoints will be held, but in this case a specific location was not mentioned.

As an interesting aside, a police officer I spoke with this week that lives outside the area said most agencies view checkpoints as preventive and the ultimate goal is not necessarily arrests. That’s why word of checkpoints being planned are spread in advance by law enforcement agencies to media contacts.