It was a productive conversation the Ocean City Mayor and Council had about the OC Air Show this week, specifically what constitutes a headline act.
Throughout its 15-year history in Ocean City, the air show has typically featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds (most commonly) or the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. For many years, the two preeminent demonstration teams flipflopped years as headliners. This was a great thing and should be the goal once again. It’s been three years in a row for the Thunderbirds after relations soured with the Blue Angels in 2019 over a police escort from Wallops Island not being offered to the pilots as had been done in the past. Back in 2013, a federal government sequestration resulted in the Blue Angels being grounded shortly before the team was to headline the air show for the first time. With the Thunderbirds already booked elsewhere, the 2013 edition featured an “all-star, all-civilian line up,” which was certainly not the same event without a military jet team headline. From their comments this week, it seems Mayor and Council members are aware the event needs to have one of the major demonstration teams to continue to be a major draw on the resort’s special event calendar.
At issue during this week’s council meeting was the wording in an informal terms’ agreement, which would be the basis for a three-year contract between the promoter and town government. Referring to the headline acts, an item stated, “no less than one of the following: the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds; the U.S. Navy Blue Angels; the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds; or two or more U.S. military single ship jet demonstrations.” The language was questioned, and it was clear Ocean City considered a headline act either the blue angels or thunderbirds teams, not two single jet team performers.
Ocean City is right to harp on the headline act language. A jet flying over the beach never gets old to me, but it’s these military demo teams who carry the event and provide serious excitement for attendees. The hope here is for the event to get back to a headliner rotation between the angels and the thunderbirds teams. These are the patriotic teams most people want to see and key to ensuring the event continues to be an economic development engine for all. The other bookings like the single jets and civilian flyers serve as attractions to round out the event performer list.
There were some special and emotional moments during the memorial service for Wicomico County Sheriff Deputy Glenn Hilliard, who lived in northern Worcester County, this week. Among the many sentimental moments came from Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing, who was one of the first speakers during the service. Downing hired Hilliard to work for the small town’s department for five years before Hilliard moved on to Wicomico County. Downing spoke of Hilliard in glowing fashion, expressing his pride in hiring him as well as how Hilliard approached him about leaving his department. He said, “chief, I’m ready to move on. Wicomico is a great opportunity – more money, better benefits … and I have to take care of my family. I asked him the same question when I hired him about running away from something or running to something and he gave me the same exact answer. He was always running to something even on his last day.”
During Downing’s presentation, Hilliard’s wife and family were presented the UMES diploma he earned but never received and members of the Berlin Police Department stood in honor as Downing presented the town’s flag to Hilliard’s wife and family. Downing also spoke of a bible verse he wanted to read during the service. It was Isaiah 57 1 and 2, and it read, “Why do good and Godly men often leave too early? The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.”
Community spirit was running high in Berlin during last week’s Dr. Rev. Albert Charles Tindley mural celebration. Besides a nice visual addition to the historic town’s public art space, the mural will stand as a source of pride for years to come. Tindley, who had 46 hymns published including many famous ones, was born in 1851 in Berlin and died in Philadelphia in 1933. Through last Saturday’s celebration, emotions were high for those who were inspired to see it happen in Berlin.
Local resident Gregory Purnell provided some historical insights about Tindley’s life during the public unveiling of the mural, which was created by artist Jay Coleman in less than a week.
“His father was a slave and his mother Hester was a freed woman. So legally that made Charles free, but still growing up amongst slaves, he was separated from his father and lost his mother as a toddler,” Purnell recalled. “And thereby he became an orphan from these meager and poor conditions. There was something different about this boy. He yearned to be educated, wanted to learn, to read. Never able to go to school, Charles taught himself to read and comprehend. There are numerous stories of Charles learning the alphabet and speaking the word for anyone willing to help him to learn, become educated. He spoke of being a barefoot boy in church in one of his first endeavors to demonstrate he gained ability to read the written word. … There were 46 of his hymns that were published.”
It was a proud day for Berlin.