By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City definitely was the place to be Saturday morning. And all one had to do was roll out of bed, in their best and most festive pajamas, of course, to shop downtown for the zany “Earlier than the Bird” mega-shopping event.
From 8 a.m. until noon, shoppers took advantage of deals at stores from Sixth Street to 14th Street along Asbury Avenue. Holiday decorations, such as garland-wrapped lamp posts and wreaths with bright red bows that hung on swags, added to the jubilant atmosphere.
Jeanne Kahn, of Malvern, Pa., and her 24-year-old daughter, Natalie, introduced her sister-in-law, Mary Karwoski, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and her daughter, 20-year-old Olivia, to the fun shopping event.
The mother-daughter duos wore matching mint and pink hued PJs complete with Santa hats and Santa slippers.
By 11 a.m., they carried shopping bags filled with gifts.
“I think we bought something from every shop,” Jeanne Kahn joked. “It’s just a great kickoff event for the holiday season. We want to support local shops, and we definitely did that today.”
Natalie said her favorite part of the excursion was being with family.
While it was a new adventure for the Karwoskis, Mary said they want to make it a family tradition.
“We are having a great time,” Mary Karwoski said. “The girls are really enjoying themselves.”
Olivia said she enjoyed all of the sights.
“I like walking around and seeing the shops and the decorations,” she said.
Each year, “Earlier than the Bird” is like the grand jumpstart to the holiday shopping season in Ocean City, officials said.
“This is a great way to start off the holiday season. We see so many of our guests coming, especially residents shopping locally. Visitors see all the new stores,” Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, said as she walked down the avenue.
She noted the lively and festive scene from music in Mark Soifer Park, across from City Hall, to all of the classic holiday characters.
“Santa is here. The Grinch is here. Our city mascots are here, Martin Z. Mollusk and Mollie,” Gillian said with a smile. “We are definitely ready to start the holiday shopping season.”
Suzanne Sullivan, of Ocean City, had some pretty easygoing parents.
Suzanne and Dave Steffen, of Sewell, N.J., agreed to dress up in some holiday attire to check out the sales on the avenue with their daughter.
Suzanne and her mother wore matching plaid robes. And while Dave did not go along with the PJs, he agreed to wear something else.
“I wore a Santa hat to keep my ears warm,” he joked.
Eileen McKeon, of Marlton, N.J., and her friends, Lori Cooney and Anne Fahey, both of East Hampton, N.J., were enthusiastically walking down the avenue toting bags filled with holiday gifts, some for family and friends, others to treat themselves.
Their attire: very green shirts with the Grinch image on them paired with plaid pajama pants
“We’re doing lots of shopping,” McKeon said, adding that she picked up some gifts for family.
Fahey bought plenty, although she admitted she treated herself. But it was all with the holiday spirit in mind, she said with a laugh.
She bought decorations, books and a few things for her family.
“I bought a bracelet for my granddaughter,” she said.
While visitors shopped, dined and enjoyed the mild temps, warm enough to forego heavy coats, others spent the morning parading around and definitely amusing others.
Mary Meduri, of Ocean City, dressed as an elf. She and her friends decided to really stand out. Instead of pajamas, they wore costumes.
“I just told them PJs and they thought that meant costumes,” Meduri explained.
There was a Santa, the Grinch, a turkey, a Christmas tree and even an alien.
“We’re having a wonderful girls’ weekend,” Meduri said.
While Asbury Avenue bustled with shoppers, a line formed in City Hall of visitors waiting to purchase discounted seasonal beach tags, which went on sale Saturday.
The tags are $30 from now through May 31. On June 1, the price increases to $35.
For more information about other special events in Ocean City, visit oceancityvacation.com.