Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – August 25, 2023

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – August 25, 2023

Though no official word has come from the Town of Ocean City, indications are next year’s OC Air Show could be bumped to late August. There are at least two aviation industry websites listing next year’s air show – annually held in June in the resort – will be Aug. 24-25, 2024, a date the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds team currently lists as “TBD” on its preliminary 2024 schedule. The Thunderbirds’ schedule for June is completely booked in 2024. For what it’s worth, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels schedule for the summer of 2024 has been full since last year.

There appears to be a good chance the OC Air Show will be held in August. This makes sense because the Ocean City Mayor and Council was clear last year during a three-year contract discussion the event must have as a headliner either the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels each year. The Blue Angels have been reluctant to return to Ocean City as a result of a previous fallout over transportation of pilots to and from Wallops Island. There have been air shows in the past in Ocean City without the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels, but Ocean City officials have made it known the event needs to be headlined by one of them. Mayor Rick Meehan said in June 2022, “The headliners are the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels. Those are the acts that make the air show go. I think we need to have one or the other to do the air show.”

If the air show is kicked to late August 2024 – which is typically when jeep week is held — it would not be the first time, but it’s certainly atypical. In 2020, due to the pandemic, a modified event was held in August featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Lightning II and A-10 Thunderbolt II.

On the official front, mum is the word as far as the 2024 date. It appears still fluid at this time, despite the online schedule posts. In response to whether Aug. 24-25, 2024, would be the dates for the next edition, Ocean City Special Events Director Frank Miller said, “As you know the OC Air Show is an outstanding event for Ocean City residents and visitors. This year, like others, we are looking at dates that, not only work with our seasonal calendar, but also accommodate the Event’s performers. We are still working through those details and hope to announce the OC Air Show 2024 dates very soon.” When asked about next year’s event, City Manager Terry McGean took a similar position, saying, “Each year, we work with the promotor of the OC Air Show to host an outstanding event for Ocean City residents and visitors. This year, like others, we are looking at dates that not only work within our seasonal calendar but also accommodate our event performers, particularly potential headliner air teams. We are still working through those schedules and details but hope to announce a date for the 2024 OC Airshow soon.” The messaging was indeed consistent, and Miller and McGean encouraged those interested to register for event notifications on the date announcement on the event’s website.

The time is now to accept more frequent maintenance dredging is the only feasible option to address chronic Inlet shoaling.

Politicians and bureaucrats do not have to accept that reality and should not actually, but the dollars and sense of the issue seem clear. It’s too expensive to create any infrastructure to address material consistently reducing the depth of the Inlet and jeopardizing navigation channels. The Army Corps told the Worcester County Commissioners in the spring a major infrastructure project is no longer being considered in favor of ongoing routine dredging. The only change discussed at the time was when the dredge boat comes to the Inlet twice a year to dig deeper and remove more silt than typical. It would seem reasonable for the dredge boats to come more than twice a year, but the fact remains inlets all around the country are facing similar predicaments. The dredges are competitively sought by other coastal areas like Ocean City.

At this point, the approach for local and state representatives is to continually pressure the Army Corps. Senator Mary Beth Carozza, who organized the boat tour last week during MACo, said “We were successful in raising the urgency of this Maryland priority with State officials who have committed to assisting with both the short- and long-term solutions and keeping the pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers.” Bob Mitchell, Worcester County’s director of environmental programs, said, “We are exploring additional dredging, more material being removed from the shoals near the 11 and 12 buoys, placement of the sand on the northern part of Assateague Island, relocation from time to time to match the best location for navigation thru the 11 and 12 buoys to match the best waters to reach the Ocean City Harbor. This informs the Corps dredge visits for material removal during their visits. We also realize we have to compete against the whole mid-Atlantic for any additional use of these two dredges.”

No promises were made during the tour and only time will tell if it was a waste of time as far as achieving more frequent dredging. The effort is worthwhile, though, as attorney Mark Cropper put it well when he said doing nothing is the only bad outcome. Without restorative actions, Cropper said, “The Inlet is going to fill in, commercial vessels will no longer have safe and effective passage out of the West Ocean City commercial marina and the recreational and charter fishing fleet will no longer be able to have safe passage into the various marinas that provide enormous financial support to Worcester County.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.