For about 20 minutes on Wednesday, a traffic nightmare appeared imminent in and around Ocean City. The State Highway Administration had announced an intention to close the Route 50 Bridge beginning at 1:30 p.m. with no plans to reopen until later in the night. That announcement came after the drawbridge malfunctioned early that morning.
Evidently, in the span of minutes, crews found the cause of the drawbridge malfunction was “a loose hand brake release,” according to SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar. It was previously believed to be electrical in nature and therefore would involve an extended closure to fix.
This was good news because Route 90 would have been backed up to Route 50 in my opinion if this extended closure did occur. Route 54 would also have been impacted. Downtown Ocean City would have been horrific as well. Given the nature of this old bridge and its history with malfunctions, the state was wise to keep crews nearby throughout the week and weekend in the event something goes awry again. It’s definitely possible and probably should be expected.
Chevy Chase resident Ed Joy is the Cal Ripken of the White Marlin Open. Joy fished this week in his 46th straight White Marlin Open.
Joy, who is 93 years old, owns the boat Streaker with a friend, John Simmonds, and has previously won the heaviest wahoo division in 2013 and the largest dolphin in 2015 in the tournament. Clearly, he has spent a lot more money on the tournament than he has won, but he doesn’t seem to worry about that kind of stuff. He simply loves fishing.
Joy has fought through many different things to fish in the White Marlin Open every year since 1974, including this year a broken thumb. “As long as I’m able and breathing, and I don’t cause too much of a headache, I’m going to keep on doing it,” he said in an interview with Staff Writer Bethany Hooper.
An accomplished fisherman who maintains he has, “caught every billfish in both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean,” Joy knows what it takes most of all to be successful in the White Marlin Open.
“You have to be lucky,” he said.
Walking around Berlin these days, it’s impossible not to be amazed at what the historic town has become. Even on the sunniest and hottest of summer days, there are more people walking the streets of Berlin these days than I can ever recall.
It was not long ago when Berlin had little business at all in the summer months. Everyone was on the beach, fishing in the bay or ocean or at the amusement parks. Nowadays people seem to be including a day in Berlin on their vacation to-do list. Last weekend, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, as I was walking with my son to the Island Creamery I noticed a group of people standing outside a restaurant. We managed to squeeze through them and overheard them talking about the wait at the restaurant. I was amazed to hear there was a wait at a Berlin restaurant for lunch in August.
That lunch rush, the line at the ice cream shop in the middle of the day, dozens of people walking the streets on a humid weekend day and word this week all Berlin commercial space in the historic district is now leased confirms for me Berlin has reached a new level of prosperity. Merchant Steve Frene touched on it this week in Staff Writer Charlene Sharpe’s feature story on “Runaway Bride,” which was based in Berlin and released 20 years ago this month.
“There’ve been a lot of things that contributed to what Berlin is now but the movie is by far one of the biggest things that happened,” Frene said. “That was one of the things that really put Berlin on the map. We got a lot of great mileage out of that and it continues to draw people to town.”
Mayor Gee Williams added, “I believe the filming and subsequent success of the ‘Runaway Bride’ was significant in validating and encouraging the continued historic revitalization of downtown Berlin. It certainly accelerated the pride Berlin citizens had already initiated in recovering our small town charm.”
While there’s no disputing “Runaway Bride” shined a positive spotlight on Berlin, I think the more recent designation of the town as “America’s Coolest Small Town,” a campaign run by Budget Travel, was just as big. Berlin won that title five years ago by running a masterful social media campaign. It has marketed itself as just that ever since and many businesses often use it in their own private public relations pieces. My church, Stevenson United Methodist, even calls itself “The coolest small church in the coolest small town.”
For those of us who have lived in Berlin for many years – my time dates back, on and off, to 1988 – there’s a tremendous source of pride in seeing how far Berlin has come over the last 10 years. For those who have lived here even longer, I like to think they feel an even larger sense of gratification.