Considerable discussion was held last week on the possibility of adding drone light shows to Ocean City’s special events offerings this summer. These are worthwhile talks, but there is no need to rush this year to fund the $200,000 required to hold eight drone shows over the next two summers.
Illuminated drone shows set to music are the rave currently internationally and domestically, and online videos of the shows confirm they are impressive. It would be a wonderful addition to Ocean City’s special events programs and would create a buzz among traditional and social media outlets, but this should be viewed as something to consider for future years. This is not the summer for it.
If Ocean City opts to bring in the popular drone shows, we believe it needs to be done within the existing special events budget, meaning events already being planned should be scrapped. Adding $200,000 to this line item would be irresponsible heading into a summer with unknown restrictions on capacity and gathering sizes.
According to a budget overview presented to the council last week, the resort will spend about $382,400 for special events in 2021. Along with the $35,000 producer fee to T.E.A.M. Productions, the fees are broken down as $115,000 for fireworks shows; $84,000 for five beach concerts; $62,400 for 12 drive-in movies on a LED wall at the Inlet; $23,000 for the ArtX Concert; $23,000 for labor for events; $20,000 for the Memorial Day Big Flag event; and $20,000 for the Octoberfest Halloween activities.
The possibility of adding drone shows excited at least a few members of the Ocean City Mayor and Council last week. There was enough interest to ask the promoter to return with budget estimates and specifics on the shows. A rough indication was to expect about $200,000 to produce eight shows over the course of two years.
Allocating more funding for special events is unnecessary for 2021. This summer is all about being outside, embracing some traditional summer favorites, like the beach, ocean, bay, fishing, golf and relaxation. There does not need to be a massive investment in funding for special events. The focus does not need to be on value-added events. This summer is about a gradual return to normalcy. There were not as many families here last summer because many were uncomfortable traveling to a crowded place like Ocean City in the summer.
This season does not need drone shows. It’s not going to be a typical Ocean City summer. We should just hope for a great weather season that allows people to be as safe as possible while relaxing on vacation. We expect this summer to be better than last summer on most fronts, but Ocean City needs to be conservative with its planning with many unknowns currently about restrictions and regulations. We need to be realistic about how this summer will progress.
President Biden says all adults who want to be vaccinated will have at least their first shot by May. It’s shocking to hear an elected official make an absurd claim like that. We had enough of those empty promises from the previous administration. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made some bold claims about dates earlier this winter and has subsequently realized impressive vaccination numbers are going to take much longer to achieve based on supply vs. demand issues.
We support further pursuing the drone shows for next year as a replacement for some of the fireworks events, but this year we do not need the added attractions. At this point in March, there remains too many unknowns on exactly how special events can be held this summer and under what restrictions.