Officials Celebrate Winterfest Success

OCEAN CITY – Officials are celebrating the success of Ocean City’s Winterfest of Lights.

Following a six-week run, the 31st annual Winterfest of Lights concluded on Sunday. Officials say they will now begin reviewing data and attendance numbers that will help them prepare for next year.

“Overall the event continues to be a successful undertaking for the Town,” Special Events Director Frank Miller said. “This year was a learning experience as we were able to see how our guests interacted with the hybrid feel of having both the trams as a service element and the walking path. We gained quite a bit of insight on what our attendees want and how they move through the event footprint – details we need to discuss internally.”

Winterfest officially opened to the public the Thursday before Thanksgiving and closed on New Year’s Eve, ahead of planned fireworks displays at both the downtown beach and Northside Park.

This year, the town introduced a hybrid model, which included both a walking element and a Winterfest Express tram ride with multiple “trolly” stops throughout Northside Park.

For decades, the Winterfest of Lights festival utilized Boardwalk trams to move people through the large lights display at Northside Park. In 2020, however, officials modified the festival to a walk-through event in response to the COVID pandemic.

Those changes continued throughout the 2021 and 2022 seasons, with additional modifications made along the way. In 2022, for example, the town added a New Year’s Eve fireworks show at Northside Park to celebrate the end of the festival and the beginning of the new year.

In continuing their efforts to bring new elements to Winterfest of Lights, tourism officials earlier this year announced it would bring the traditional Boardwalk tram element back to Northside Park for 2023, albeit as an express tram ride. Officials said they would continue to maintain a walking path for visitors.

“In 2023, we’re going to bring back the trams,” Business and Tourism Development Director Tom Perlozzo said last year. “They appeal to a different demographic. We’re still going to maintain the walking path option. It will likely be a hybrid of the two elements.”

In an update Tuesday, Miller said officials have collected data on the 2023 Winterfest of Lights and will be reviewing final numbers in the coming days. He said staff would also continue in their efforts to improve the holiday lights festival.

“We will continue to push an increasingly valuable family experience while keeping the experience fresh and fun,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.