The first “Lifeguard Ball” was held in 1931 for the purpose of raising funds to buy needed equipment for the Ocean City Beach Patrol. The dance would become a highly anticipated annual event for both the guards and the close knit group of young people who worked in Ocean City each year. For most, it would be the only time they would dress up all summer.
The last Lifeguard Ball held in Ocean City was at the Pier Ballroom on Sept. 1, 1964. The following year city limits expanded from 41st Street to the Delaware line and the beach patrol tripled in size. With no local venue big enough to handle the large crowd of lifeguards, beachboys and their dates, the dance was moved 30 miles away to the Salisbury Armory in 1965. Recording star Wilson Pickett was the headline performer.
That was the final Lifeguard Ball ever held. Safety concerns (primarily drinking and driving back to Ocean City) and the time and effort needed to put on a successful dance ended a popular tradition.
To purchase one of Bunk Mann’s books, click over to www.vanishingoc.com.