By Maddy Vitale
Some were on the dainty side, others more athletically built.
But they were all beautiful – well, maybe in the eyes of other hermit crabs.
The crustaceans, adorned in colorful shells, crawled about in cleverly-themed dioramas, competing Wednesday in the Ocean City Miss Crustacean 2018 “beauty contest.”
The contest, on the beach at Sixth Street, was followed by a hermit crab race in which the “speediest” crab earned the prized King of Klutz Plaque. Amused crowds watched from the Boardwalk as the pageant unfolded in clearly one of Ocean City’s wackiest and funniest events of the year.
Ocean City Special Events Coordinator Michael Hartman entertained the crowd joking throughout the zany event. Newly crowned Miss Ocean City Megan Keenan, who was joined by Little Miss Ocean City Ginger Mumman and Junior Miss Ocean City Hope Aita, had a lot of fun when race began, while Director of Community Services Michael Allegretto kept official time.
In the end, twin sisters Julie Marzano and Emily McCarthy, and their children, proved that their family really does have a hermit crab dynasty.
Their elaborate display called, “This is the Greatest Shore” beat out some tough competition to capture the grand prize. For Marzano and McCarthy, it was the sixth year in a row that they won.
The twins, from Springfield, Pa., who spend their summers in Ocean City, said they spent a while coming up with the theme and creating the scene.
“This is really the high point of our summer,” Marzano said. “We didn’t tell anyone what we were making. We like it to be a surprise.”
They said it would be the last year they do the competition. But they will be around.
“Our kids are taking it over for us,” Marzano said with a laugh about passing the torch to their six children, ranging in age from 4 to 8.
They took home the coveted Cucumber Rind Cup as did the winner in the Commercial Division and the fastest crab. The trophy supposedly contains enough food to sustain the crustacean for a year.
Local business Fisherman’s Cove won for the Commercial Division with “Crabdacean,” a spoof on the reality TV family, the Kardashians. Harper Tomlinson, 7, of Doylestown, Pa., won for having the fastest crab, coincidentally named “Lightning.”
Harper said she likes “Lightning,” but she won’t hold him.
“He pinches,” she said with a laugh.
Olivia Fisher, 8, of Doylestown, Pa., created an elaborate scene, mimicking the movie “A Wrinkle in Time” with her “A Pinch in Time.”
Olivia held out her hand and looked down at “Charlie,” her crab, and explained how much she loves him.
“Charlie is an escape artist,” Olivia said.
Her aunt, Jen Carey, of Somers Point, added, “Olivia loves her hermit crab. I saw this contest and we figured she just saw the move “A Wrinkle in Time,” so she could do a scene with that.”
Carey said she and her niece spent a long time at the dollar store selecting interesting pieces for the display.