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Admission Buttons on Sale for “First Night Ocean City”

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The Stevie Nicks tribute band Gypsy headlines the musical entertainment during the "First Night" celebration. (Photos courtesy of Ocean City)

Come celebrate a family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Ocean City. “First Night” offers entertainment that satisfies every taste and age group.

First Night was founded 31 years ago and 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 included 25 entertainment acts at five different locations with about 800 people attending.

While other First Night events have faded, Ocean City’s has only grown more popular with families making it an annual tradition for a safe New Year’s Eve. Today, attendance is capped at 10,000 with admission buttons selling out year after year.

First Night offers more than 70 entertainment programs at 20 different venues throughout town on Dec. 31. One $22 (inclusive of service fees) button is good for all programs.

Headline entertainment at the Ocean City Music Pier this year will include “GYPSY,” a tribute to the music of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, and “Motor City,” a revue of Motown’s greatest hits.

There are plenty of kid-friendly rides.

The return of perennial favorites like outdoor ice-skating (with extended hours this year), rides at Wonderland Pier, magic shows, the Harlem Wizards and a variety of musical performances also highlight the entertainment lineup.

The Ocean City Pops will perform with a returning favorite – the Chicago tribute band Brass Transit. In their first-ever First Night appearance, the Atlantic City Ballet will perform a holiday show.

First Night’s 2024 sponsors include the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Cape May County Division of Culture and Heritage, McMahon Insurance Agency, Ocean City Free Public Library, Wonderland Pier and Atlantic City Electric.

Tickets are available:

  • Online: firstnightocnj.com
  • By phone: 609-399-6111.
  • At the City Hall Welcome Center at 861 Asbury Avenue (9th Street entrance): 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • At the Roy Gillian Welcome Center (9th Street causeway): 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • At the 46th Street Welcome Center (4500 block of West Avenue): 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.
Ventriloquist John Pizzi brings a kid up to the stage.

DOWNTOWN ASBURY AVENUE CELEBRATES ‘FESTIVE FRIDAYS’

Downtown merchants are celebrating “Festive Fridays” this year. The fun started on Nov. 24 with Ocean City’s traditional Christmas in the Downtown – “Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue” event and continued on Dec. 1 with the annual Christmas Parade.

Asbury Avenue will host another Festive Friday on Dec. 8 with shopping, carolers, and free horse-and-carriage rides from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (with boarding at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue). Festive Fridays return on Dec. 15 and 22.

‘FINDING NEMO JR.’ AT THE MUSIC PIER6

Ocean City’s Layla Camacho will add her talent and flair to the role of Nemo in Ocean City Theatre Company’s “Finding Nemo JR.” at the Ocean City Music Pier at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9; and 2 p.m. Dec. 10. The talented cast will be comprised of students in grades 3 to 8.

This new stage musical is a 60-minute adaptation of the beloved 2003 Pixar movie “Finding Nemo” with new music by the award-winning songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

Tickets can be purchased at oceancitytheatrecompany.com or in-person at the Music Pier starting 45 minutes before each curtain. All tickets are $15.

Ocean City’s Layla Camacho will add her talent and flair to the role of Nemo in OCTC’s Finding Nemo Jr.

COMING UP

Photos with Santa in Lifeguard Boat (Dec. 9-Dec. 23): Noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Ocean City Music Pier.

Visits with Santa in the Downtown (Dec. 9-Dec. 23): 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Mark Soifer Park, 9th Street and Asbury Avenue.

First Day Celebration (Jan. 1, 2024): Activities include a 1 p.m. 5K run on the Boardwalk (pre-register at www.ocnj.us/race-events), a 2 p.m. First Dip polar plunge, and an all-day shopping extravaganza. Visit firstnightocnj.com for more information.

Revelers enjoy a chilly dip on New Year’s Day in 2022.