Ocean City Rehires Lobbyist; Modified Special Events Approved

OCEAN CITY — A busy Mayor and Council regular meeting last week included a contract renewal for the town’s government relations consultant and a handful of modified special events related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mayor and Council on Monday approved a contract renewal with government relations consultant Bruce Bereano. The consultant was first hired by the town in 2017 to provided assistance with numerous state and regional issues including the various bills in the General Assembly germane to Ocean City.

For example, Bereano has represented Ocean City in Annapolis during the various iterations of the special event zone bill and the motorized special events. The lobbyist has also been at the table for Ocean City during the various hearings on the proposed changes in the turbine size for the offshore wind energy projects.

His contract with the town is set to expire at the end of August and was seeking an extension for another year renewable in quarterly payments for a total of $65,000. The Mayor and Council on Aug. 17 approved the contract extension for Bereano. Mayor Rick Meehan said his services have been indispensable for Ocean City on various issues.

“Bruce has been a great asset,” he said. “He provided a lot of help with the special events bill and I’m not sure we would have had the success with that we did without him. As far as the wind turbine issue, he has been at the forefront of that. I think it’s important we continue that relationship for now. That continuity is important.”

Also during the meeting, the Mayor and Council approved a modified Parade of Brothers event on Sept. 11 on the Boardwalk. The annual event typically starts with a parade of hundreds of motorcycles from the Maryland chapter of the Red Knights Motorcycle club from the end of the Boardwalk at 27th Street to the Fireman’s Memorial at North Division street.

The event commemorates the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. However, like so many others, the special event will be modified this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. City Manager Doug Miller explained the changes planned for this year.

“They plan to revise the event this year because of COVID,” he said. “Normally, we would have 400-plus motorcycles parading down the Boardwalk. They want to not have the parade, but instead have a small, solemn ceremony at the fireman’s memorial with a couple of speakers, bagpipes and the laying of a wreath at the memorial. It will be very low-key in accordance with the state directives on social distancing and crowd sizes.”

The annual Jeep Week festivities set for this weekend will also look a little different this year. From Thursday to Sunday, a parade of roughly 300 jeeps will travel down the beach from the Boardwalk end at 27th Street to the Inlet lot from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Each day during the event, the participating jeeps will complete an obstacle course on the beach between the pier and Talbot Street. This year however, in the interest of spreading the event out and follow social distancing and other state COVID-related directives, the jeeps will complete the obstacle course in three shifts of 100 at a time on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with just one shift planned for Sunday, the final day of the event.

The Mayor and Council approved the modified special event and agreed to provide the requested support of the Ocean City Police Department, the Ocean City Beach Patrol and the public works department. The Beach Patrol will provide personnel on 12 ATVs to monitor safety along the two-mile obstacle course on the beach just north of the pier.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.