Special events are proven economic drivers, and Ocean City tourism officials appear all in on the concept of the more the merrier.
The slippery slope is ensuring quality events geared toward economics are the focus rather than simply stacking the calendar with small, insignificant events. It appears at this point in Ocean City tourism officials are open to consider all special event concepts, preferring to think large scale. This approach is laudable. We see value in securing diverse events aimed at attracting visitors at times of the year when they are needed to sustain the economy and fill in slow gaps in the calendar.
At this week’s Tourism Commission meeting, Ocean City Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo told members the city is “at a crossroads” and wants to expand the events landscape. It’s one of the reasons a monster truck event is being proposed for mid-October in between Oceans Calling and Sunfest. He said, “… what I’m saying to you all is if you’ve got an idea for an event you’d like to see, send it our way, because we’re going to make a larger effort in the next three or four months to recruit those events, whether it’s sports, convention center business, six more Oceans Callings, whatever it may be.”
Special events are major economic development initiatives in the shoulder months for Ocean City and surrounding areas. There are some weekends when business sales are contingent on special events. The cheerleading competitions in Ocean City in February and March are excellent examples of the types of events the resort needs to grow. The inclement winter weather does not matter, and these competitions involve hundreds of teams from areas all over. In some cases, it’s an introduction to Ocean City that could extend for generations. The hotels and restaurants that are open benefit greatly from the gathering.
The approach to examine all special event concepts is a good one. At one point during this week’s conversation, there was talk about buying “marsh mats,” which provide stable surfaces on soft ground. Some of the mats were used during the music festival to provide stable walking areas. When connected over a broad area, the mats provide essentially a roadway. It seems Ocean City is mulling the purchase of these for the beach for major events to free up the Inlet parking lot and eliminate the loss of parking revenue during events like BikeFest. This makes practical and fiscal sense.
We like the concept of thinking big because Ocean City learned during the fall music festival it can handle going outside the comfort zone.