SNOW HILL– Officials agreed to license a portion of the Inlet parking lot, the beach and the Boardwalk so that alcohol can be served there during special events.
The Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC) approved a request from the Town of Ocean City this week for an “entertainment facility” seven-day beer, wine and liquor license. While the license will make it easier for the town to serve drinks during events like Sunfest, the request for it was prompted by the new Oceans Calling festival.
“This type of license would facilitate these events taking place until a more permanent type of situation can be arranged,” said Mark Cropper, the attorney representing the town.
Cropper told the board the town was seeking an entertainment facility license for a portion of the beach, Boardwalk and Inlet parking lot in order to serve alcohol at a handful of events.
“In that area, the city would be permitted to hold events in which alcohol would be served,” he said. “It may be limited to the parking lot, it may be a combination of the parking lot and the beach, it can be one, the other, both. Access to this entertainment facility would be provided not only from the south end but also through the Boardwalk which is the reason the Boardwalk has been included.”
He said the town would be responsible for the events, not an organizer.
“The town would be responsible for anything and everything that takes place within the parameters of this entertainment facility,” Cropper said. “It’s no different than being in the convention center.”
He said those events could include Sunfest and Oceans Calling, among others. He submitted letters of support from Trimper Rides as well as Ocean Amusements Inc.
In the past, nonprofits have often sold drinks at events like Sunfest. Cropper said that could continue under the new license. He added that this license was likely a temporary measure for the town.
“It is the intent of the Mayor and Council to pursue a way to conduct these events on a more permanent basis, possibly through the legislature but you really haven’t gone that far,” Cropper said.
BLC member Marty Pusey said she was aware that the new Oceans Calling event had prompted the request but asked how the new license would serve the public need.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said the town received a lot of requests for more events, particularly in the offseason. He said the resort wanted to create the sort of events visitors wanted to see and that the license would make that easier.
“It’s going to provide an amenity to encourage people to visit in the time we start to slow down,” he said.
Pusey asked how many people were expected to attend Oceans Calling. Meehan said the town was estimating 40,000 people but that their visits would be spread out over the three-day event. He added that not all of the area proposed for the license would be used at one time.
“It’s an expanded area over any event we’ve had before,” he said.
Tom Perlozzo, Ocean City’s tourism and business development director, reiterated that. He noted that there were multiple stages with rotating performances for the event. He added that one of the stages would be used for a culinary exhibition during the festival.
Pusey said that still sounded like a lot going on.
“We work hard on noise levels in other parts of Ocean City,” she said.
William Esham, chairman of the BLC, said the license wasn’t something the resort had to have in order to host the event.
“They can have this event without us,” he said, adding that the BLC should focus on security measures proposed.
Perlozzo said the company behind Oceans Calling, C3 Presents, had various measures in place. He said attendees would be issued an RFID bracelet that identifies them. They’ll also be required to go through metal detectors and bag checks similar to those at NFL stadiums. The entire 51-acre site, which extends up to Talbot Street, will be fenced in. C3 Presents will also be working closely with the town’s police department and fire marshal.
“They’ve been by far of all the events in Ocean City the most prepared,” Perlozzo said.
He said C3 would have about 400 employees working the event and that the town would have about 100 employees working the event.
“It’s all hands on deck,” he said.
Though Pusey said she would have liked to hear from some Boardwalk bar owners in the area, there were none in attendance.
“We advertised it,” Esham said. “They had an opportunity to be here.”
The board voted 3-0 to approve the license request.