By Donald Wittkowski
Be quiet. Hush up.
We’re serious. No loud noises, no screaming, no disturbing the peace of any kind.
The whole point of Ocean City’s two-day Quiet Festival unfolding this weekend is to enjoy the sweet sounds of silence.
This is, after all, the time of year when the throngs of (noisy) summer tourists are long gone and the year-round residents begin to enjoy what are supposed to be the tranquil off-season months.
With that in mind, Ocean City celebrates its annual Quiet Festival with a series of leisurely events that barely cause a peep.
Last year, the Quiet Festival was billed as the perfect antidote for the raucous, headache-inducing presidential election.
This year, the family-friendly festival adds more activities to make it bigger and better, but not noisier, explained Michael Hartman, the city’s director of special events.
“There are a lot of things happening in two days,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s a fun way for families to connect.”
Hartman noted that the bigger version of the Quiet Festival now incorporates different venues inside the Ocean City Community Center, adding more flavor and activities for children and their parents.
Highlights Saturday included jigsaw puzzle-making in the Historical Museum, pottery demonstrations in the Arts Center and storytelling in the Free Public Library’s lecture hall.
During the storytelling session, children were treated to an appearance by Ocean City’s “royalty.” Each wearing their ornate crowns, Miss Ocean City Madison Kennelly, Junior Miss Ocean City Hope Aita and Little Miss Ocean City Ginger Mumman took turns reading from children’s books. Also on hand for the storytelling was the crowned Mr. Mature America Matthew Allen.
“We have the whole royal family here,” Allen quipped.
During another event at the Quiet Festival, this one in the Historical Museum, Jack Engstrom, 9, and his 7-year-old brother, Zachary, were busy assembling Ocean City-themed jigsaw puzzles.
“I like it. I get to make a puzzle. It’s creative,” said Jack, a fourth-grader at the Ocean City Intermediate School.
Zachary, a second-grader at the Ocean City Primary School, said some of the puzzles were hard, but he persevered.
Their mother, Sandy Engstrom, of Ocean City, seemed to revel in the blissful silence of her sons. Normally, they spend their Saturday mornings playing video games, she noted.
“It’s nice to have them be so quiet,” Engstrom said. “Quiet time is good.”
Meanwhile, the Quiet Festival continues Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with an array of events inside the Community Center venues, including the ever-popular annual pet show. Even the animals are supposed to be quiet. Kids dress up their dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles, hamsters and even hermit crabs in colorful costumes in a quest to win the coveted Quiet Pet Contest.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, the festival will wrap up with a “Bubble Blowing Bonanza” at the pickleball courts on 18th Street. The bubble blowing grand finale is considered a quiet alternative to a fireworks display.