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There was one place to forget the COVID-19 troubles Sunday afternoon. That was on any of the Ocean City beaches, where beachgoers did their best to social distance amid the pandemic, enjoy family time, the sun, the surf and a getaway from the rest of the world. Alicia Crist and her family ventured down from Delaware County, Pa., for the day with her children, Taylor, 4, and 2-year-old son Robbie. Her sister, Nikki Crist, and her boyfriend, Scott Ruoff, made a day of it at the 34th Street beach. While the adults sat in lounge chairs, the kids had something else on their minds – sandcastles.
Determination, perseverance, and above all, uniqueness, are some of the qualities that make the Ocean City High School Class of 2020 stand out, Principal Dr. Matt Jamison told graduates seated in Carey Stadium to mark their milestone on Thursday. The graduates are unique in many ways, Jamison emphasized. They were born in the shadows of 9/11. They started school during a recession and in middle school they faced challenges living at the shore when Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. Yet, through it all, the students’ unwavering strength allowed them to forge ahead and achieve great things, Jamison noted.
In a season when positive and encouraging trends are desperately needed, beach tag sales in Ocean City seem to be one indicator that people are getting out and spreading out on the seven miles of sand that the resort has to offer. “We just got the June numbers in and they were great, almost doubled June of 2019,” Chief Financial Officer Frank Donato said Wednesday. For June of 2019, the total revenue for tags was $623,000. For this June, it was $1.16 million.
Major milestones in life cannot be forgotten. The COVID-19 pandemic may have altered plans for a traditional graduation ceremony at Carey Stadium for the Ocean City High School Class of 2020. But there will be a ceremony -- just a socially distant one -- this Thursday at 10 a.m. However, due to Gov. Phil Murphy’s order that there may be no more than 500 people assembled at an outdoor event, only the graduates and school faculty will be permitted in the stadium.
The Ocean City Theatre Company (OCTC) and the city’s Recreation Department are teaming up to bring theatre camps to kids this summer. CDC guidelines will be adhered to. There will be small group settings of 20 students or less, face masks will be required when not able to social distance, and all of the activities will be held outdoors under the Music Pier Loggia. The three camps, one each for elementary, middle, and high school students, allow those who love the performing arts to join together and share their talents.
The summer looks a bit different this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Rides, amusements and outdoor dining just recently reopened, and social distancing is the constant rule to follow. For seagulls, social distancing is not a choice -- it is a strictly enforced rule -- as long as “Lilly” the hawk is around. Other trained raptors, including falcons and an owl, are also keeping the gulls away from Boardwalk strollers and beachgoers who simply want to enjoy some good food. Ocean City officials say the seagull-abatement program is working well.
No fireworks. Few live events. And living in a pandemic. All those things did not deter families from enjoying the balmy temperatures, cool water, the reopened Boardwalk amusements and arcades, as well as the eateries and shopping, on the Fourth of the July. Tourists strolled along the Boardwalk, nibbling on French fries, ice cream and pizza, sipping cool drinks and just spending the day – and the holiday weekend – forgetting about COVID-19.
The Ocean City Boardwalk is just not the same without the whoosh of a ride, the screams from a thrill on a roller-coaster or the giggles from kids testing out toy race cars. On Thursday, with Gov. Phil Murphy’s go-ahead to reopen amusement parks, water parks, and arcades taking effect, families were once again able to enjoy one of their favorite traditions just in time for Fourth of July weekend. “The amusements, the water parks and the arcades are an integral part of the Ocean City Boardwalk experience,” said Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Families looking for some sweet deals in the way of farm fresh veggies and fruits should visit the Ocean City Farmers & Crafters Market, which opens Wednesday. The market is held on the Ocean City Tabernacle grounds at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Sept. 9. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, face coverings are required. Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian said the weekly event through the summer offers the right recipe for those who want to get out in the fresh air and shop.