Light Up Downtown Event Gets Approval

OCEAN CITY — In the hopes of creating a new holiday tradition in the downtown area and reviving a lost one, Ocean City officials this week approved a proposed Light Up Downtown special event in late November.

For years, the wildly popular and critically acclaimed Winterfest of Lights at Northside Park in the north end of Ocean City has been the centerpiece of the resort’s holiday offering to visitors and, rightly so, that is not going to change. However, in recent years there have been different efforts to direct holiday visitors to the downtown area with varying degrees of success.

The Inlet parking lot once included holiday light displays similar to those at Winterfest, but low attendance and cost considerations forced the town to abandon the downtown event several years ago. In the years since, the Downtown Association has attempted to revive interest in the downtown area with different events, holiday decoration contests and the like and as a result there has been a renewed interest in downtown Ocean City during the holidays.
Perhaps what has been missing thus far is a singular defining special event and destination to kick off the holiday season in the downtown area. To that end, the Mayor and Council on Tuesday approved a request from the Downtown Association for its Light Up Downtown event scheduled for Saturday, Nov.21.

The Light Up Downtown Event will be held on the Boardwalk between South 1st Street and South 2nd Street. The event will include craft and food vendors, craft tables, horse and carriage rides, musical entertainment, dance troupes, a tree lighting and, of course, a visit from Santa. Downtown Association President Mary Ann Manganello told the council the event is actually a combination of two of the organization’s previous holiday events downtown, the Light Up Downtown at Sunset Park and the Wicomico Street Winter Festival, both of which have been approved for 2015.

However, with the approval of the single Light Up Downtown event on the Boardwalk this week, the two other events will be canceled.

“The Downtown Association’s hope is to take what they have learned over the past four years hosting these two events to produce one bigger event that will be entertaining and profitable,” said Manganello. “Our goal is to promote the city and provide something else for people to do on their stay in Ocean City that weekend. We want to make it a fun, family-friendly event.”

The Light Up Downtown event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21 on the Boardwalk between South 1st Street and South 2nd Street from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.