With the return of Cruisin next week comes the first challenge to an entirely new approach to motorized special events in Ocean City.
Topping the list of changes is the new special event zone created by local legislators and approved by the Maryland General Assembly as an emergency measure. The zone essentially allows Ocean City police to crack down on motorists who are speeding, spinning wheels and driving in an unsafe fashion. Speed limits will be reduced for events like Crusin and fines will be increased drastically along town roads for aggressive, negligent and unsafe driving. The visual of this new event zone as well as the heavy hand that will come with it from the enforcement front should be a difference maker.
Other changes include Cruisin promoters encouraging participants to get some of the ruckus behavior seen on local streets in previous years out of their system at the US 13 Dragway in Delmar. Events, such as burnout contents and organized races, are planned for both Friday and Saturday 45 minutes from Ocean City. That should help with traffic and relieve a bit of the ruckus.
Additionally, a general awareness campaign has been administrated through the private business community to enhance their involvement at their properties. Mayor Rick Meehan said the town is seeking the business community’s assistance, saying, “We’d like to have them put on their signs ‘welcome to Ocean City, drive safely and fines doubled.’ That’s the message we want to get out. We want that message all over town.”
Individually we don’t think any singular change – such as the special event zone created island wide – will have a massive impact. However, there’s hope that cumulatively they will change the weekend from a major headache to an acceptable one with positives and negatives.
Expectations can be dangerous with new changes. We don’t foresee a wholesome, harmonious week ahead, but we are optimistic these changes were steps in the right direction that should improve the situation for all involved. The more realistic expectation is that the event will evolve and improve over a matter of years through more changes.
Cruisin is important economically for Ocean City. Sure, there are certain segments of the business community that do better than others with this motorized event, but there’s no question it’s a positive financial force for Ocean City.
The hope here is that it can transition into a tolerable weekend rather than being one dreaded by most in the community.