Winterfest’s Final Numbers Nearly Identical To 2014

Winterfest’s Final Numbers Nearly Identical To 2014

OCEAN CITY — The final tallies for Winterfest of Lights were released this week revealing, as expected, the 2016 numbers fell short of last year’s record-shattering season, but came in almost identical to the prior record in 2014.

Ocean City’s Winterfest of Lights wrapped up its 24th year last weekend with fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve and other special events culminating in another successful season for the centerpiece of the resort’s holiday experience. When the last of the lights winked out and the final numbers were tallied, the 2016 figures were remarkably similar to those in 2014 although they fell just short of the records set in 2015. During its 46 days of operation this holiday season, Winterfest of Lights attracted 111,052 patrons, or just 10 more who rode the tram through the festive lights display two years ago.

“2016 almost matched 2014 exactly, surpassing that record year by only 10 riders,” said Special Events Director Frank Miller this week. “As difficult as this is to believe, the overall ticket sales figures confirmed the close numbers with total sales of $373,833 versus 2014 at $373,880. Keep in mind, kids 11 and under ride for free.”

In short, 10 more riders enjoyed Winterfest of Lights in 2016 compared to 2014, and the difference in total ridership sales was a mere $47. The similarities are uncanny, but both 2014 and 2016 fell short of the record-shattering year for Winterfest of Lights in 2015.

Blessed with near-perfect weather throughout the entire Winterfest of Lights schedule last year, 2015 attracted around 126,000 and the final revenue figures came in at about $614,000, making that season the benchmark by which all Winterfest seasons will be judged until those numbers are broken again.

In mid-December, Miller told the Recreation and Parks Committee the year-to-date numbers for 2016 were running practically parallel to 2014 with a few weeks ago and depending on the weather, the 2014 figures could be eclipsed. The weather did cooperate for the most part, especially with last weekend with New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday, and Miller’s prediction from three weeks ago came true, almost to the penny.

“Weather was a major variable in event performance as expected,” he said. “Poor weather yielded low attendance on a few key nights and the week before Christmas through the holiday was a nail-biter. Luckily, the week after Christmas, and with New Year’s Eve residing on a Saturday night, brought the numbers back in sync with 2014.”

When all was said and done, the final gross revenue for 2016 was $584,665, compared to $551,787 in 2014 and $645,149 last year. Miller said the big gain this year was in consumer spending. Even though attendance dropped by 14 percent, there was only a 5-percent decrease in retail sales and a 2-percent decrease in the Santa House photo and accessory sales.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.