Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

The public gets its first crack at seeing “Ping Pong Summer” this weekend and most of the early reviews I have heard are positive. Comments like “cute,” “entertaining” and “funny” were common responses from those who attended last Friday’s private screening in Ocean City. From the trailers I have seen, I expect it to be a walk down memory lane because I am the same age as writer and director Michael Tully and we likely share many childhood memories.

I will be catching the movie this weekend either at the theater or OnDemand at home. It’s worth noting Tully is encouraging people to hit the theaters because home viewing is not tracked and ticket sales are critical in the early going for independent movies being able to branch out and grow to more cinemas.

“For specialty releases that are not opening in hundreds of theatres across the country, it is very, very important to go see it in theatres that opening weekend,” he said. “Throughout the summer, we are going to book other theatres like in Miami and Philadelphia but as far as immediately booking theaters in the next week, this weekend is crucial. So if you are not near one of these theatres in the area travel the 50 minute, drive to take the risk. Take your family, go to the theatre, buy a ticket, and support independent cinema made in Maryland.”

Sticking with the movie, one of the more unique aspects of it was that its production required 31 financiers, including Ocean City and Worcester County, which each gave $100,000. With that funding comes questions of what sort of Return On Investment (ROI) should be expected. That’s going to be a difficult matter to quantify over the long term.

I view this movie as a branding thing for Ocean City. I don’t think people in Nashville, Minneapolis, Denver or Dallas, several of the release sites today, are going to immediately plan Ocean City vacations after seeing the movie, no matter how well it portrays the area. However, it does give Ocean City a tremendous boost in exposure that it would not get any other way. The ROI topic was brought up this week in Staff Writer Joanne Shriner’s interview with Tully.

“When all is said and done with what happens in the next month or two, I do think the city and county will feel like their investment was worthwhile. We had 31 investors for this project, so whether it is the city or county, or the older woman in Annapolis, I feel a real personal obligation that I would love to see everyone get an investment return,” Tully said. “The fact that Ocean City and Worcester County invested in this is almost a miracle and unprecedented, but I think we are getting pretty close and when all is said and done everyone who was an investor in this movie will feel proud and reimbursed. That is my hope.”

The scene on the beach in Ocean City on Monday was as disturbing and frightening as it gets. Most of the photos from the drowning scene could not be printed because they capture the horror that was being experienced in such detail.

While EMTs worked to try and bring the victim back after being underwater for at least 20 minutes, his friends were nearby struggling with the enormity of the tragic situation. One female friend became so upset she also had to be briefly hospitalized due to hyperventilation concerns, according to crews on the scene.

The shock and concern told the story that everyone who was on the scene already knew. The 18-year-old man’s life was over way too soon. The official call would come a couple hours later at the hospital, but it was known on the scene he would not make it after being submerged for so long.

In the wake of the tragedy, I was included an email between a concerned citizen, City Manager David Recor and members of the Ocean City Mayor and Council. The citizen maintained the city is not doing enough to educate the public about rip currents. Recor then responded with a couple links to public education documents created by the Ocean City Beach Patrol to further educate the public about the ocean’s dangers.

It’s human nature to try and right a wrong, but the beach patrol does a masterful job of getting safety messages to the public through newspaper articles, signs on the beach, aggressive lifeguard interactions with swimmers, numerous public safety presentations and more, all geared toward its mission to educate, prevent and intervene.

Unfortunately, it’s just impossible to prevent every tragedy.

Although it may seem cold to some, the Ocean City Mayor and Council is right to initiative legislation that will allow it to condemn a needed piece of property for a new public boat ramp on 64th Street.

Negotiations have been ongoing for some time between the property owner and the city. It was reported this week there may finally be progress in a previous impasse in these negotiations, but the matter is fairly simple.

The city has the right to acquire this property through condemnation proceedings, and the property owner would be wise to accept the city’s offer that is based on a fair market appraisal of the land, which is reportedly undevelopable in the first place.

Even if all goes as planned, the city is looking at two more years until the boat ramp project can be completed. That means two more years of headaches for Little Salisbury residents who have been dealing with the unfortunate consequences of having a ramp in a residential neighborhood.