There seems to be good news and bad news on the OC Air Show front. The good news is next summer’s event will feature the entertaining U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the featured headliners.
Looking beyond next year to 2021, there seems to be some bad news and serious questions about the event. It was learned this month neither the U.S. Navy Blue Angels or the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have Ocean City on their 2021 schedule of events. The trend in recent years has been for the premier demonstration teams to alternate stops in Ocean City every other year. With the Thunderbirds appearing at the 2020 event, expectations were high for the Blue Angels in 2021. It was learned this week the Blue Angels will be making 29 appearances in 2021 but Ocean City is not among them. For its 75th Anniversary air show year, the Navy team will appear in June 2021 in Lake Charles, La., June 5-6; La Crosse, Wis., June 12-13; Niagara Falls, N.Y., June 19-20; and Duluth, Minn., June 26-27. For their part, the Thunderbirds’ June 20-21 schedule features stops in Smyrna, Tenn., Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. and Quebec, Canada.
The 2021 event would not be the only year the air show has not featured a major U.S. jet team. In 2013, major federal spending cuts through “sequestration” resulted in all jet teams being grounded for much of the year. The resort’s air show that year was marketed that year as an “all-star, all civilian lineup.” Attendance was still strong on the beach, but there is no question the air show was not the same without a marquee jet team as a headliner. Organizers will most likely beef up the lineup with respected civilian acts, but it’s clear at this point the 2021 will not feature the jets everyone has become accustomed to seeing over Ocean City.
On the 2020 event front, the OC Air Show announced this month the A-10 Thunderbolt II demonstration team will appear with the Thunderbirds next summer. More acts will be announced in the coming months for the June 13-14, 2020 weekend.
Though last summer was by and large a solid one for most businesses, there’s no disputing a concern once again was Ocean City has become a predominately weekend resort. The shortened vacation trend didn’t happen overnight and there are no easy fixes, but the thoughts outlined at this week’s Ocean City Tourism Commission meeting to attempt to extend the weekends with Thursday and Monday promotions seem logical.
The town’s subcommittee meetings often become brainstorming sessions among elected and appointed officials. This was certainly the case this week when the topic surfaced about addressing a recent survey concluding the average stay in Ocean City last summer was two-and-a-half days. Ocean City Councilman John Gehrig suggested a reasonable short-term goal for the resort would be to get that average length of stay to three-and-a-half days in the near future.
“I know that doesn’t sound like much, but that would be a 20% increase,” Gehrig said. “We need to figure out a way to extend the weekend, so maybe we need a weekend kick-off party of some sort on Thursday nights. We already own the weekends, so let’s brainstorm and figure out how to extend it. It could be beach concerts punctuated by fireworks or something like that. Let’s figure out how to market ‘summer rules’ and encourage people to take Friday off … We always talk about increasing weekday visitor numbers, so let’s start with Thursday and work back from there. We already dominate the weekends.” Ocean City Councilman Matt James added, “We’re talking about marketing this as take off Friday and start your weekends early.”
During this discussion, Ocean City Manager Doug Miller suggested a promotion revolving around “Thursday is the new Friday” while Tourism Director Donna Abbott pitched, “Make Casual Friday Really Casual.”
Whatever is decided the key is moving quickly and getting this integrated into an ad campaign soon.
For the last 20 years, the most powerful man in Maryland politics has been Senate President Mike Miller.
WJZ-TV anchor Vic Carter conducted an interesting on-camera interview this week with Miller, who will officially step down next month as Senate president due to a terminal illness with stage four prostate cancer. In the interview, Miller, who often ruled over the dominant Democratic Party with a heavy hand, was unbelievably candid about his preparations for death.
“I don’t ask for healing because I think it’s selfish quite frankly,” Miller said. “I just thank God for his graces, and I thank God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon me already. Whatever he decides, that’s what we are going to live with. That’s what we are going to accomplish. I feel it would be selfish to ask for anything more than what I have already received because I have been blessed. Abundantly, over and over again. … It gives me comfort to think that God is directing me into this path, so it’s not Mike Miller making a decision. There is a savior out there who is saying this is what’s best for you and this is what’s best for the people of Maryland.”