The time has come to move the spring Cruisin’ weekend event to earlier in the spring season.
Whether it’s held in March or April, it’s likely the same problems seen last week will exist, but the only non-option is to do nothing and resolve that beefing up law enforcement will be able to tame the outside groups from ruining the weekend.
It’s clear the 3,300 registered participants in Cruisin’ Ocean City are not the problem. While they may not always be able to resist the urge to peel wheel or burn out at stoplights, there’s mechanisms in place to hold them accountable. Organizers have given police the ability to yank a registered vehicle’s participation in the daily car shows should there be any major issues.
We believe Cruisin’ Ocean City is a worthwhile event that should stay. The Boardwalk parades and the daily car shows are nice attractions for Ocean City. The problem is over time the event has been riddled with serious safety and quality of life concerns that are not directly linked to it.
These are not just Ocean City concerns. Over the weekend, there were several You Tube videos shared of dragstrip racing on Assateague Road at night with dozens of individuals standing along the road cheering on the participants. Vehicles looking to get around the informal race gathering were forced to turn around or face a violent encounter with individuals behind the unsanctioned activities.
Ocean City officials have tried to tackle the many negatives that have come with the influx of non-registered participants but their efforts have been unproductive. It’s become a dangerous weekend and it’s a miracle there were not more major accidents and more than one tragedy.
No matter if the event is bumped up to April, the property damage will probably continue. A cursory drive around downtown Ocean City was startling on Sunday morning. Many roads, especially Baltimore Avenue, were damaged by the drag racing and juvenile attempts to show off. The trash left behind was also disturbing.
We believe moving the date to April is a step in the right direction. The date needs to be strategically decided as to steer clear of Easter weekend and planned spring breaks for local and metropolitan schools.
Of course, even if the date is changed, the problem of the outside, non-registered vehicles converging on Ocean City to wreak havoc remains. It’s easy to say a higher police presence is needed, but there must be realism here. Police were simply outnumbered last weekend. They can’t be everywhere and there are plenty of examples from last week when police were unable to get to offenders because of traffic.
One law enforcement official remarked how it was an unwinnable nightmare. Even when police could hear the vehicles spinning out and violating the law near them, they couldn’t see who it was from all the smoke. Even when they could see them, they were often unable to get through traffic in a timely fashion. It played out all weekend. It’s become a nightmare.
Last weekend is beyond the point of tweaks and adjustments. Something entirely different needs to be tried and we believe a date change is logical. The economic positives of the event are not needed as much in mid-May as many years ago and as such the negatives outweigh the dollars for most businesses and certainly the residential community.
A date change will not solve all the negatives associated with the weekend, but it might make it more manageable from a law enforcement standpoint.