Ocean City will start the New Year in style with its popular First Night and First Day celebrations.
Now in its 26th year, First Night includes a spectacular lineup of more than 75 shows and activities at venues throughout Ocean City during an alcohol-free celebration from 4 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 31, 2017. About 10,000 people will fill the streets and make New Year’s Eve feel like a summer night in Ocean City, before a midnight fireworks display rings in the year 2018.
The fun continues on New Year’s Day with the all-day Shopping Extravaganza at stores throughout town, a 5-kilometer run and, of course, the ceremonial “First Plunge” of 2018 – featuring more than 1,000 hardy souls diving into the Atlantic Ocean for their first swim of the year.
Here’s what you need to know to enjoy all the fun.
How to purchase First Night admission buttons: Buttons ($20) are good for all events. Children age 2 and under are free.
- Online: Purchase First Night buttons online at firstnightocnj.com.
- By phone: Call 1-800-BEACH-NJ.
- In person: Buttons can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily), at Stainton’s Square (810 Asbury Avenue, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily) and at City Hall (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily).
- Get tickets now: Sales are capped at 10,000 and buttons do sell out.
When: The First Night event schedule runs 4 p.m. through the midnight fireworks on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017.
What and Where: 33 different shows and activities will be available during more than 75 different time slots at 19 venues throughout Ocean City.
- See and print the full First Night entertainment schedule.
- See descriptions of the different programs.
Highlights: The USO Troupe and Chubby Checker will provide headline entertainment on the Ocean City Music Pier. Popular attractions such as rides on Wonderland Pier, outdoor ice-skating, Abbott and Costello impersonators, the Fabulous Greaseband, the Ocean City Pops orchestra, nationally acclaimed magicians Chad Juros and Ben Lipman, and Japanese drummers return this year. The pool at the Ocean City Aquatics and Fitness Center, the new skateboard park at Fifth Street and Asbury Avenue and the observatory at Ocean City High School will be open to button-holders.
Parking and transportation: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. for button-holders, operating continuously between sites starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.). For a route map and more information, visit the First Night website.
Fireworks: A fireworks display will be launched starting at midnight from the beach between Fifth Street and Sixth Street. The best viewing spots will be from the beach and boardwalk on either side of this block, which which will be closed during the show.
Sponsors: Primary sponsors include Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, OceanFirst Bank, Ocean City Tabernacle and the Ocean City Free Public Library.
History of First Night: First Night in Ocean City and was modeled after an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration in Boston that marked the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The first celebration in Ocean City in 1992 included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26). About 800 buttons were sold.
First Day Shopping Extravaganza: The Shopping Extravaganza all day on Monday, Jan. 1 includes great bargains on downtown shopping and free horse-and-carriage rides, noon to 3 p.m., starting at City Hall. Ocean City’s Asbury Avenue between Fifth Street and 14th Street has been voted the number one downtown in South Jersey.
First Day 5K: A 5-kilometer run and non-competitive walk starts at 1 p.m. on the boardwalk near Seventh Street. Race-day registration begins 11 a.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier (Boardwalk at Moorlyn Terrace). T-shirts will be available for the first 500 registered. Refreshments are available after the race. Entry fee is $25. Award categories include male and female first, second and third overall and first, second and third in the following categories: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over. Visit https://runsignup.com/Race/NJ/OceanCity/FirstDay5KBoardwalkRun to pre-register or print an application.
First Plunge: The plunge starts at 2 p.m. and is free to all who will brave the cold. Participants should sign a waiver at the Ocean City Music Pier before the event. A DJ will provide entertainment. The plunge will go off north of the Music Pier on the beach near Eighth Street.
THE BEACH BOYS RETURN TO OCEAN CITY MUSIC PIER
After making their Ocean City debut with four sold-out Music Pier shows in 2016, the Beach Boys will return for a third straight summer in 2018. Performances are scheduled for 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 and Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.
Bob Rose and BRE Entertainment announced the concerts this week. A pre-sale (use code BRE) opens at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, and full ticket sales open at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20. Tickets are $59.50 and $75. Visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 866-448-7849 for any of the shows.
MORE HOLIDAY EVENTS IN OCEAN CITY
FREE HORSE AND CARRIAGE RIDES (Dec. 23): Enjoy an old-fashioned ride down Asbury Avenue noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 23. Start in front of City Hall at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue. For more information, call 1-800-BEACH-NJ.
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA (Dec. 23): 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, at Jon & Patty’s (637 Asbury Avenue, 609-399-3377).
PHOTOS WITH SANTA (Dec. 23): Join Santa in an Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguard boat for photos noon to 3 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier. For more information, call 1-800-BEACH-NJ.
COMING UP IN JANUARY
SOLDIER CRY: THE STAGE PLAY (Jan. 7): Shows are 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier. Come see Shore Medical Center employees and war veterans on stage to benefit the SMC Cancer Center. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the City Hall Welcome Center or at the door on the day of the show.
CAPE SHORE CHORALE EPIPHANY CONCERT (Jan. 7): 3 p.m. at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 2998 Bay Ave. Directed by Scott J. Breiner, the group will perform selections from J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 80, “Ein Festeburg 1st Unser Gott,” as well as other seasonal music. Visit www.capeshorechorale.org.
ARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CEREMONY (Jan. 13): Begins at 1 p.m. at the Bill and Nancy Hughes Performing Arts Center, located at the Ocean City High School, Sixth Street and Atlantic Avenue. Please use Sixth Street entrance. Immediately following the ceremony, stay and enjoy a soul food dinner. A southern style comfort menu to include fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, collard greens and more! For more information, please call 609-399-6111.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY OF SERVICE (Jan. 15): Contribute to a morning of service where you can participate in a citywide cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon. Sign-up, supply distribution and lunch will take place at the Howard S. Stainton Senior Center, located in the Community Center, 17th Street and Simpson Avenue. To participate or for more information, please call 609-399-6111.