OCEAN CITY — The grand spectacle of offshore powerboat racing returns to Ocean City in early October and this time race enthusiasts will have the opportunity to view the powerful boats up close and personal with a handful participating in the annual Endless Summer Cruisin’ parade on the Boardwalk.
Offshore powerboat racing has been a staple of the resort’s shoulder seasons off and on for the last decade or so with the Offshore Powerboat Racing Association (OPA) making stops in the resort as part of its summer-long racing series. Because of the timing of the summer season in Ocean City and the need to close off a vast area of ocean to accommodate the racing, the OPA typically puts its Ocean City stop near the end of its schedule and this year is no different.
Over the weekend of Oct. 7-9, the OPA will host its penultimate event of the summer series with the Ocean City Grand Prix in advance of the world championships in Florida a week later. Event headquarters are located in West Ocean City in and around the public boat ramp at the harbor with public viewings, meet and greets with the racers and the associated events at the race village. However, as an added twist this year, as many as four offshore powerboats will be added to the parade on Saturday, Oct. 8, on the Boardwalk as part of the Endless Summer Cruisin’ event, which takes place the same weekend.
OPA representative and Ocean City restaurateur Phil Houck made the request this week to add as many as four powerboats to the Cruisin’ parade on the Boardwalk and the Mayor and Council approved the measure after getting some assurances from Special Events Coordinator Lisa Mitchell. Mitchell said the concept was run by the Endless Summer Cruisin’ organizers, who gave it their blessing with a couple of conditions.
“They’re open to having the boats in the parade so long as the boats follow the last car and come at the end of the parade,” she said. “Also, due to the crowded nature of the Boardwalk and the Inlet lot at that time, they also made the request to have the boats leave the Boardwalk at North Division Street.”
For his part, Houck said adding the boats to the Cruisin’ parade used to be a time-honored tradition.
“Back in 1998 and 1999 when we were at the Inlet, we used to have the boats go down the Boardwalk with the cruisers,” he said. “The Boardwalk wasn’t as wide as it is now and there were no obstructions then.”
The council ultimately approved the addition of up to four powerboats at the end of the parade.
“I think it’s a really nice addition,” said Councilmember Mary Knight. “We get to see these boats offshore, but not a lot of people have seen them up close, so I think it’s a great idea.”