Smooth Cruisin Event Reported, Despite Huge Crowds; OCPD Releases Preliminary Stats

Smooth Cruisin Event Reported, Despite Huge Crowds; OCPD Releases Preliminary Stats
One of the 3,000-plus registered participants in last weekend’s 30th Annual Cruisin Ocean City event is pictured on Coastal Highway. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — While the 30th Cruisin Ocean City spring event last weekend brought huge crowds, there was nothing too remarkable from a traffic and crime standpoint.

The resort was packed last weekend, largely because of the spring classic car event, which drew over 3,000 registered participants along with countless other vehicle enthusiasts and spectators, but also because of picture-perfect weather with plenty of sunshine and daily temperatures in the 90s. The town’s special event zone, with enhanced penalties for speeding, reckless driving and exhibition driving, for example, was in place from last Tuesday through Sunday and there was a significant number of citations issued and arrests made, although its difficult to discern which were related to the event and which were among the public in general.

The Cruisin Ocean City event is sanctioned and well-organized by the promoters with special events at the Inlet lot and the convention center all weekend, contests with trophies and other prizes awarded and off-island events to spread participants out throughout the weekend. While the number of vehicles might be similar to the riotous unsanctioned pop-up car rally in the fall, the spring event is considerably tamer in terms of violations, incidents and disrespect to the town.

In advance of the Cruisin last week, the town implemented the special event zone and called in reserves from allied law enforcement agencies. Also, last year the town beefed up its towing ordinance to address modified vehicles that are not street legal and authorized the towing of vehicles involved in illicit behavior, and that was in place during the event last weekend.

Unlike the unsanctioned pop-up car rally in the fall, Cruisin event promoters generally police themselves with inspections of participating vehicles and little tolerance for disrespectful behavior. However, as with most of the motorized special events, there are unregistered hangers-on who create issues and that appeared to be the case last weekend from a statistical standpoint.

While the numbers are preliminary, there were over 1,400 calls for service, including 954 officer-initiated calls and 448 citizen-initiated calls. In addition, the preliminary numbers represent those handled by the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) alone and do not include statistics from the allied law enforcement agencies including the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police, for example.

The OCPD reported 391 total traffic stops from Wednesday through Sunday and the department issued 443 traffic citations. Last year, the General Assembly approved legislation adding “exhibition driving” to the previously approved special event zone legislation, which includes a laundry list of violations from abrupt acceleration, skidding, swerving and spinning wheels, for example. Exhibition driving offenses include hefty fines and potential jail time for the most egregious violations. The OCPD issued 22 exhibition driving citations during over the course of the four-day event.

There were 77 total arrests during the event last weekend including nine DUI arrests, six drug arrests and seven weapons arrests. There were also 44 reported traffic collisions last weekend.

The towing changes approved last year by the city allow law enforcement to remove vehicles from the roadway for a variety of reasons and impound them. Another significant change enacted last year was the reclamation process for impounded vehicles. If a vehicle is towed and impounded for a variety of reasons, it has to be towed back out of the impound lot at the expense of the registered owner and not driven out, which essentially doubles the cost. The OCPD reported there were 111 towed vehicles brought into the town’s impound lot between Wednesday and Sunday last week, although it did not break down which vehicles were towed because of illegal modifications.

OCPD Deputy Communications Manager Ashley Miller said despite the big crowds on hand for last weekend’s cruising event, from a statistics standpoint, it was fairly calm compared to other motorized special events.

“Overall, the Cruisin’ Ocean City event brought a lot of people into town,” she said. “It was a beautiful weekend to visit Ocean City. The Ocean City Police Department was out in full force along with our allied law enforcement partners.”

Miller said the OCPD and its allied partners were out in front of the spring cruising event with the special event zone and other initiatives in place.

“Our officers were proactive during the weekend and handled event-specific incidents like exhibition driving and non-related calls for service,” she said. “Our working partnership with the Cruisin event promoters will continue to grow to help keep the participants and visitors safe. We hope everyone enjoyed their time here in Ocean City.”

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.