Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Never have I seen anything like the crowd and traffic factor last Saturday in and around Ocean City for the Air Show. The only thing that comes close is when the 4th of July falls on a Saturday and the weather is perfect.

A few sights I had never seen before, and having called this area home all my life I like to think I have some perspective, include Assateague Road being backed up at 11 a.m. well beyond Ayers Creek; the West Ocean City park and ride facility being packed and overflowing with waiting vehicles; St. Louis Avenue at 2nd Street backed up seven blocks as vehicles waited to get onto Philadelphia Avenue to get out of town at 7 p.m. on Saturday; the beach was so crowded on 21st Street men couldn’t even extend their legs without hitting other people; and enough trash accumulated by the end of the day on the beach at 21st Street to fill up five trash cans (the Boardwalk cans in the area were also overflowing with trash).

There were headaches to be sure, and the city needs to re-evaluate better trash removal during these high-volume events because it was a messy eyesore. However, it was a special day for all who got a chance to experience the event and well worth the trouble. My best “first” was watching the U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform overhead while swimming in the ocean. That’s a lifetime memory. Our resident aviation expert, photographer Chris Parypa, has long maintained the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which have performed multiple times in Ocean City, are impressive, but the U.S. Navy Blue Angels team is in a league of its own. I think most would agree with that conclusion after watching them last week.

Last Friday Blue Angels Pilot Andy Talbott, who flew the No. 3 jet in the show, tried to give a group of high school students seated during an assembly at Stephen Decatur High School a sense of the precision flying involved with him and his colleagues.

“Everybody raise your hand,” he said. “Now look up. In about six hours, I’m going to be flying an aircraft that distance away from another aircraft.”

It was an amazing display that swelled patriotic pride in our country and our resort town.

If Ocean City goes the beach ball route with its water tower, it’s simply going to be copying exactly what other resorts have done. That much is clear after a chosen design was selected this week for bid purposes. If that design is selected (see page 9), it will be a shame. Ocean City is better than that. To simply steal the design of other resorts to the south is unacceptable, boring and disappointing.

I find the entire beach ball concept wrong for Ocean City in the first place. If you have ever taken a beach ball to the beach in Ocean City, you realize it’s a surefire way to have a miserable experience. The combination of breezy or windy conditions, a crowded beach and a beach ball results in it blowing all over the place and the inevitable whistles from the lifeguard.

I understand the beach ball is synonymous with the beach lifestyle in general, but it’s silly for Ocean City to not seek something more unique, relevant and common to our area. I would rather see a sunset, sunrise, shorebirds, crabs, a landscape or something to do with fishing as a backdrop to the town’s logo rather than a lame beach ball.

The good news is the town has time to right the course on this after getting a look at the potential costs associated with adding art work like this to a water tower. At this point, I’m hoping it’s simply a fact-finding mission and the city is not set on this beach ball theme.

The Ocean City Mayor and Council as well as the task force that was assembled over the winter was rightfully so lauded this week by a number of Boardwalk business owners for the planned changes on street performers.

The changes that will go into effect are welcomed and the major one is the fact designated locations have been set in stone for the Boardwalk to be available on a “first-come, first-serve allocation and selected system” maintained by City Hall. These are the key regulations that had to come out of all the work the task force put into crafting its proposal over the winter to address what was mayhem on the boards the last few summers. The pole dancer who humiliated the city last summer seemed to be the final straw for city officials and business owners.

Boardwalk Task Force member Bob Rothermel put it well when describing the end result as a means to achieve a “balance” for the city, the street performers, residents, visitors and Boardwalk business owners.

“It [Boardwalk] was the wild west out there on the most eastern walkway in Maryland. This is an attempt to provide balance. We can sit here and try to pick it apart but that is not what we need to do. We need to pass something that everybody can live by, and I encourage you to do that.”

The only downside is the timing of the whole thing. It doesn’t go into effect until late July.