OCEAN CITY — The summer fireworks schedule and potential big-name concerts were part of a larger package of enhanced special events approved this week at City Hall.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Bob Rothermel of TEAM Productions presented a line-up of special event enhancements for the summer of 2020 including fireworks at the beach downtown and at Northside Park. He also pitched the idea of adding as many as four significant concerts on the beach and at the north-end recreation complex.
Each year, the town’s tourism budget includes a $300,000 line item for TEAM Productions’ enhanced value-added special events including the weekly fireworks shows. Last month, the Tourism Commission expressed a desire to expand on the resort’s stranglehold on summer weekend travel plans for many in the region by enhancing the special events and other attractions.
As a result, the weekly downtown fireworks shows, which, for years, have been held on Mondays and Tuesdays, will be moved to Thursday this summer. What has not changed is the start time for the fireworks displays, which will continue to go off at 10:30 p.m. each Thursday, weather permitting, from June 18 through Sept. 27.
“There will be 13 shows on Thursdays throughout the summer along with Labor Day Monday,” said Rothermel. “The plan is to coincide with the whole concept of ‘Make Thursday the New Friday,’ which has been discussed recently. We’re going to enhance the shows this year by adding more product. You’re going to get more bang for your buck.”
Uptown, there will be 13 fireworks displays each Sunday at the conclusion of the town’s popular Sundaes in the Park event at Northside Park. The shows will be held each Sunday around 9 p.m. starting June 14 through Sept. 6.
During the tourism commission meeting last month, Rothermel told members he was working on an enhanced summer concert series this season including potentially three significant ticketed beach concerts attracting major acts. A free concert has been confirmed at Northside Park on Aug. 22 in conjunction with the town’s ArtX event, which has been done in the recent past.
However, Rothermel said he is continuing to work out the details for three ticketed concerts on the beach at North Division Street this summer. The targeted week for the first concert is July 5-10, while the target date for the second beach concert is Aug. 20. A third ticketed beach concert is tentatively slated with a preferred date of Sept. 3.
When Rothermel first pitched the beach concert series at the committee level last month, he told members he was in negotiations with some significant major acts, although he was mum on the details. He told the Mayor and Council this week those negotiations are ongoing, but he was not prepared to divulge any names at this point. He related a story from decades ago when he was negotiating with a major act and the deal fell through when the announcement was made prematurely.
“I’d prefer not to discuss the bands at this point,” he said. “Back in the 1990s, I was pressed for a name and divulged it and it was in the papers that Friday. Their agent called me and said ‘what are you doing?’ and the deal fell through. That was before social media, so you can imagine what would happen if I leaked a potential name. All I can tell you is it’s a major name, and I’m in conversations with their agent and I think we’re in good shape.”
Rothermel said he was targeting Thursdays for the concerts in keeping with the theme, but said negotiations were ongoing.
“There is going to have to be some wiggle room,” he said. “I’m pushing for Thursdays, but if we want to attract top talent, we’re going to have to be flexible.”
Rothermel said the plan is to bring back the popular beach chair concept from the Beach Boys concert on the beach in the 1990s. Attendees who paid a premium ticket price were given a beach chair for reserved seating with the artist’s name and the date of the concert on it.
In addition, Rothermel on Tuesday presented plans for an altered OCToberfest event schedule next October. In recent years, the OCToberfest event, including the haunted beach maze, the Boardwalk Pet Parade and the Great Pumpkin Race, have been spread over two weekends in late October. However, because actual Halloween falls on a weekend this year, Rothermel said the plan is to consolidate all of the events on the same weekend on Oct. 24-25.
“When we surveyed people from the pet parade and the pumpkin race, we learned to try to do all of it on Halloween weekend would be problematic,” he said. “Visitors want to be in their home towns for Halloween for trick-or-treating and other events with their towns and the schools.”