By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City’s festive holiday decorations could make even the Grinch’s heart grow.
From garland-wrapped lamp posts to large wreaths adorned with bright red bows that seem to float above the downtown shopping district, the spirit of the season is alive in the resort.
City Hall appears stately and regal with wreaths displayed on the windows and adornments, including a garland swag, highlighting the entrance to the historic 1923 landmark.
Sheilagh and Daniel Daly, of New York City, have a second home in Ocean City.
On Saturday, they strolled, with their 16-year-old daughter, Niamh, along Asbury Avenue, checking out the holiday decorations and popping in some boutiques.
“There’s such a great vibe here over the holidays,” Sheilagh said. “It is such a nice escape from Manhattan. We love it here, especially at Christmas time.”
“It’s the best of small town America,” Daniel added.
In addition to the downtown, the Ninth Street and 34th Street corridors into town are also decorated with vintage flair each year.
Mayor Jay Gillian noted that the decorations are put up shortly before the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
“It’s a Hallmark moment,” he said of the reaction after the decorations go up. “It’s what Ocean City is all about, tradition and memories.”
Gillian added that at this time of year, he receives many phone calls and emails from the community and visitors remarking on the decorations.
“People say how much they love the decorations. It’s the best time of year,” he said.
This Saturday, Nov. 18, “Earlier Than the Bird,” an annual shopping extravaganza, will take place from 8 a.m. to noon in the downtown along Asbury Avenue from Sixth Street to 14th Street.
Shoppers are encouraged to wear their pajamas and get some early deals on presents, while listening to live entertainment.
Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian said it is so wonderful to see everyone get into the holiday spirit. Each year, the excitement seems to grow, she noted.
“It really kicks off the holiday shopping season,” she said. “There are so many businesses open year-round now and with the weather being mild, you can ride your bike, walk downtown, just enjoy the atmosphere. It is such a wonderful town and we love the holiday season.”
After “Earlier Than the Bird” comes another mega-shopping event.
On Nov. 24, the city will host “Christmas in the Downtown,” also called “Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue.”
The annual Black Friday event includes shopping, horse-and-carriage rides, street entertainment, carolers and visits with Santa.
At 5 p.m. Santa Claus will emerge on the rooftop of City Hall. With the help of an Ocean City Fire Department ladder truck, Santa will descend and help light the Christmas tree and light up City Hall.
The city began decorating the downtown with the traditional-style decorations people see today back in 2012. It was, in part, to help lift the spirits after Superstorm Sandy hit on Oct. 29, 2012, according to officials.
Since then, it is a feature of the holiday season that officials note continues to bring families back year after year.