It’s nothing short of a miracle more people were not seriously injured or killed last weekend in Ocean City. It was a nightmare.
The town was overrun with young car enthusiasts intent on raising hell on the streets of Ocean City, damaging anything they wanted, drinking wherever they wanted, littering to ridiculous proportions and wreaking havoc in general. It was an embarrassment and brings about the same emotions and feelings as the spring Cruisin event did and this same H2Oi weekend does practically each fall.
What was seen last weekend is nothing new and should not surprise anyone. The fact is the thousands of motorists who came here intent on damaging the town’s infrastructure and violating most laws as well as human decency expectations came here fueled by the knowledge they were not welcome. Their disrespect for police was obvious by their actions as well as the nasty messages taped on many vehicles’ exteriors.
Of all the predictable comments made this week at City Hall, those from Councilman Dennis Dare’s hit home the most when he surmised the answer no longer lies in enforcement.
“Everybody says get more enforcement, but that’s not the answer,” he said. “We saw a maxed out police force and maxed out resources that we can bring to bear on this weekend and that’s not the solution. … I think we need to go to the promoter and say we’re not interested in this event being in town. Cancel it, take it someplace else or there could be legal action.”
What Ocean City needs is serious action. We are talking huge changes on the local roadways that will inconvenience everyone until these miscreants get the message. Some issues to consider along with the highest level of police manpower possible include major lane reductions on Coastal Highway and Baltimore Avenue, temporary impediments placed on roads typically targeted for racing and spinouts, changing the frequency of the traffic signals and instituting a curfew on the highway. Raising room and condominium rental rates to peak summer levels during this weekend may also be a deterrent.
We need to explore any and all legal means to make it uncomfortable for the hooligans intent on running roughshod over this town without a care in the world. Unfortunately some of these changes may hurt local businesses and impact the quality of life of citizens, but last weekend’s behavior merits a punishing reaction.
The only option is to make Ocean City as unappealing as possible for this crowd. They know they are not welcome and they seem to embrace that and are motivated by it. It’s time for an aggressive and extreme response that goes beyond words from behind a dais.