Ocean City Happenings: First Night, Fireworks, First Plunge

Ocean City Happenings: First Night, Fireworks, First Plunge

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An array of acts will keep the crowds energized on 2019 First Night. Vocal Trash, pictured, will perform a mix of "Glee meets Stomp." (Photos courtesy City of Ocean City)

Ocean City marks the 27th anniversary of its popular family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration this year, and as many as 10,000 revelers are expected to attend based on the crowds in the past.

First Night offers more than 70 opportunities to catch more than 30 different shows and activities at 22 venues throughout town.

The lineup includes entertainment to satisfy every taste and age group, according to Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen.

A fireworks display rings in the new year at midnight. The fun continues on New Year’s Day with a 5-kilometer run on the Boardwalk and the wildly popular First Plunge in the ocean.

First Night events run 4 p.m. to midnight on Monday, Dec. 31. The First Day 5K starts at 1 p.m. and the First Plunge goes off at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

ADMISSION BUTTONS: First Night buttons ($20) are good for all events. Children age 2 and under are free. They are on sale now.

  • Online: Visit firstnightocnj.com.
  • By phone: Call 609-399-6111.
  • In person: Buttons can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway, at City Hall (861 Asbury Avenue) and at the 46th Street Welcome Center (46th and West).

Pickup at will-call will be available daily at the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street entrance). On New Year’s Eve, City Hall will-call will be open until 9 p.m. (First Night will not use the Stainton’s location this year.)

HIGHLIGHTS: Some of the new entertainment for this year’s lineup includes The Spinners (with six Grammy nominations for hits like “Then Came You,” “Working My Way Back to You” and “The Rubberband Man”), Disney Junior’s Choo-Choo Soul with Genevieve, an interactive science show from the Franklin Institute, and a slapstick comedy dog show called “Johnny Peers & the Muttville Comix.”

A Choo Choo Train will run between Sixth Street and Eighth Street on the Boardwalk between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Traditional favorites including ice-skating, a “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the Ocean City Pops,” the Fabulous Greaseband and midnight fireworks.

FULL SCHEDULE: The full schedule of events and activities and a printable grid is available at firstnightocnj.com. Descriptions of all entertainment programs is also available at firstnightocnj.com.

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: All municipal parking lots and metered parking spots are free. Jitneys will provide free transportation from 5 p.m. until midnight for button-holders, operating continuously between sites starting at the Ocean City Transportation Center (Ninth Street and Haven Avenue) and Seventh Street Parking Lot (Seventh Street and Central Ave.). For a route map and complete information, visit firstnightocnj.com.

DINING AND SHOPPING: Food and drink will be for sale at the Civic Center (Del’s Grill), Ocean City High School cafeteria (Sack O’ Subs), Ocean City Community Center (Yianni’s Café), Ocean City Primary School Cafeteria and St. Peter’s United Methodist Church (light Boardwalk fare). For a full list of Ocean City dining and shopping outlets open on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, visit firstnightocnj.com.

HISTORY: First Night in Ocean City was 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 27 years ago included 25 entertainment acts in five different locations with admission buttons selling for $8 ($5 before Dec. 26).

About 800 buttons were sold. 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 DAY AT THE BEACH

BOARDWALK RUN: A 5-kilometer run starts at 1 p.m. in front of the Ocean City Music Pier. Race-day registration begins 11 a.m. at the Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. Shirts for all who pre-register and while supplies last. Refreshments are available after the race. Entry fee is $30 (or $25 if you register before Christmas). For full information, links to online registration and printable forms, visit firstnightocnj.com.

The traditional First Plunge in the ocean is a wacky way to celebrate New Year’s Day.

FIRST PLUNGE: The ocean plunge starts at 2 p.m. on the beach adjacent to the Music Pier. Participants should register inside the Music Pier before heading to the beach. Registration is free, but all participants must sign a waiver. First Day At The Beach shirts will be on sale at the Music Pier for $20.

SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA: There will be an all-day shopping extravaganza with discounts at stores on Asbury Avenue and the Boardwalk from 5th to 14th Streets.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND:

Free horse-drawn carriage rides will be available noon to 3 p.m. on downtown Asbury Avenue on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 22 and 23).

Santa will travel to Ocean City to visit with children for breakfast 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. He’ll be at Jon & Patty’s (637 Asbury Avenue) on Saturday (Dec. 22), and at Arlene’s (624 Asbury Avenue) on Sunday (Dec. 23).

Santa also will be available for photos in an Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguard boat noon to 3 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 22 and 23). Cost is $10 per photo.

OCEAN CITY MUSIC PIER

THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE – Want to experience the Franklin Institute’s brand of interactive science right in Ocean City, N.J.? The high-energy, family-friendly and energetic Traveling Science Shows bring the magic of science to life. The museum’s Live-Science Shows are some of the best ways for people to see experiments and demonstrations of how science impacts our everyday lives.

DISNEY JUNIOR’S CHOO-CHOO SOUL “WITH GENEVIEVE!” – Come see Genevieve Goings and Constantine “DC” Abramson, the stars of Disney Junior’s “Choo-Choo Soul.” They began as a hip-hop/soul children’s album of music before the brand was acquired by Disney.  In the show, Genevieve is a soulful and hip singing train conductor, and DC is a beat-boxing, break-dancing engineer who will engage children in sing-alongs, dance routines and lots of other crowd participation as they perform the hits seen on Disney Junior.

The Spinners will be the headliner at the Music Pier during the First Night New Year’s Eve celebration

THE SPINNERS – Sophisticated up-tempo R&B with precision choreography defines a Spinners show. With more than 60 million records sold in their illustrious career, the mighty Spinners have performed for U.S. presidents, received six Grammy nominations, and appeared on TV too many times to count.

The group has an unbelievable 18 solid gold Top 40 hits. Their Top 10s include: “Then Came You,” “Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me, Girl,” “Cupid (I’ve Loved You for So Long),” “The Rubberband Man,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love,” “I’ll Be Around,” “They Just Can’t Stop It,” “One of a Kind (Love Affair),” “It’s a Shame” and more.

OCEAN CITY SPORTS AND CIVIC CENTER

INFLATABLES – Visit our indoor carnival with giant inflatables!

THE FABULOUS GREASEBAND – The Fabulous Greaseband is a seven-member “Best of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s Rock ’n’ Roll Party Band.” Their highly entertaining and energetic delivery of the greatest dance songs ever written has kept the group on top for the last 40 years!

OCEAN CITY SPORTS AND CIVIC CENTER OUTSIDE BASKETBALL COURT

ICE RINK – The best synthetic ice-skating rink surface in the world. Skates are supplied for this 40-by-88-foot rink. Come join this winter wonderland fun as a DJ spins the hits of yesterday and today.

OCEAN CITY HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASIUM

PHILLY ROCK & SOUL was formed in 2011, consisting of nine seasoned and talented musicians. The band specializes in tunes from the 1960s thru the ’80s, emphasizing R&B, soul, and rock genres. The lineup is designed to evoke the sounds of that special era, consisting of male and female vocals, drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and horn section.

JOHNNY PEERS & THE MUTTVILLE COMIX is a slapstick comedy dog show like no other. Johnny leads more than a dozen rescue dogs through challenging and hilarious tricks as Johnny plays the straight-man role in this wonderful family show.

They have appeared with the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, on the “David Letterman Show,” “Primetime Live,” “Circus of the Stars,” at Disneyland and at the White House. They are the “Animal Planet Pet Star” winners. Sit! Stay! Get ready to howl! Johnny Peers and his personality-plus canines are coming to tickle your funny bone.

HUGHES PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (OCHS Auditorium)

JUNIE B. JONES THE MUSICAL presented by the Ocean City Theatre Company – Created by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, the team that brought you “Dear Edwina,” comes “Junie B. Jones, The Musical” – a delightful adaptation of four of Barbara Park’s best-selling books, brought to life in a genuinely comical (and not strictly-for-kids) musical developed by TheatreworksUSA.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, DANCE! presented by the Ocean City Theatre Company – Audiences will go on a magical journey through different genres of film as a cast of professional dancers and singers bring to life some of the greatest movie anthems! This 40-minute celebration of filmmaking includes dramatic costumes, a fully staged production, theatrical effects and leading talent from New York City!

AUXILIARY GYM OF OCEAN CITY HIGH SCHOOL

CHAD JUROS MAGICIAN – Chad Juros is an award-winning magician who has been honored to share his magic with audiences around the world for more than 20 years. Chad has brought his talents to such places at the White House, Carnegie Hall, both Atlantic City and Las Vegas, internationally on the Island of Aruba and numerous regions in Canada.

COMMUNITY ROOM OF OCEAN CITY HIGH SCHOOL

ANDREW HINK is a lifelong pianist and singer-songwriter, as well as an Ocean City native and University of the Arts graduate. In March 2018, Hink debuted his first full-length original musical The Shoobie Show, which is about life by the beach and Boardwalk.

THE BEACH STRUMS, A UKULELE GROUP – are going to demonstrate the versatility of the ukulele by playing songs from the Hawaiian Islands and Vaudeville, as well as popular American standards and selections from the Doo-Wop era.

ROBIN GAZZARA, 29, is a singer-songwriter from South Jersey. Touring the country from the ages of 18 to 22, she has performed piano/guitar/vocals with the bands I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business and Ace Enders and A Million Different People. Robin currently has been performing locally at venues all over the South Jersey Shore area, mixing covers of current songs to classics, while also operating Robin Gazzara Music Studio in Hammonton.  She currently resides in Ocean City.

Ocean City High School will host several First Night events.

CAFETERIA OF OCEAN CITY HIGH SCHOOL

KARAOKE PARTY – You sing the hits as Center Stage Entertainment brings their top-of-the-line karaoke setup to the high school cafeteria!  Free and fun for the entire family! Join up with friends to belt out your favorite songs or just come be entertained by the karaoke singers or by the lively “KJ” who will play dance favorites in between song selections!

OCEAN CITY PRIMARY SCHOOL

ILLUSIONIST ANTHONY SALAZAR is back by popular demand with his exciting show geared for the family audience. Witness amazing illusions choreographed to high-energy music. The show is a carefully blended combination of magic, comedy, dance, mind-reading, and audience participation that will leave you breathless.

JUNGLE JOHN – A two-time Guinness World Record holder with his fun and educational reptile show. Always with him is “Wally Gator,” a 5½-foot American alligator and “Julius Squeezer,” a 12-foot albino Burmese python, in addition to more than a dozen other reptile and amphibian friends and a few from the insect world.

OCEAN CITY TABERNACLE AUDITORIUM  

OCEAN CITY’S ROCKIN’ NYE WITH THE POPS – Ring in the new year with the Ocean City Pops and a trio of NYC’s top vocalists. Ocean City’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve will have you dancing in your seat as some of the biggest pop/rock songs of all time are presented by a trio of NYC’s top vocalists backed by the Ocean City Pops.

VOCAL TRASH – Described as “Glee Meets Stomp,” Vocal Trash asks you to recycle your imagination as their urban-themed Broadway style show energizes audiences from New York to Seattle, Las Vegas to Beijing. Their performance redefines the meaning of high-octane family fun entertainment.

OCEAN CITY TABERNACLE YOUTH CENTER

GIVE AND TAKE JUGGLERS – Give and Take has been a consistent hit with both children and adults for more than 40 years. Our highly interactive, comedic show uses traditions from Vaudeville, circus arts, theater, and music to create a lively and wholesome performance that feels fresh and contemporary.

OCEAN CITY SKATEBOARD PARK

SKATE AND DJ – The skateboard park will be open 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Shore Entertainment will be playing music for kids and young adults. Safety gear is required.

PETER’S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH SANCTUARY

THE CAPE SHORE CHORALE, founded in 2005, has approximately 50 dedicated volunteer singers from Atlantic and Cape May counties.  Their repertoire includes both secular and sacred music.  Since its inception, the Cape Shore Chorale has been under the direction of Scott J. Breiner, one of the most respected musicians in South Jersey. Their First Night presentation is titled “Around the World with the Cape Shore Chorale” and will feature familiar music with global impact.

THE MEN OF BROADWAY – The Ocean City Theatre Company will put the spotlight on Broadway’s leading men as they perform a revue of iconic Broadway hits. Be wowed by the sounds of Broadway as leading men perform classic selections by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein, Gershwin, as well as, contemporary selections from today’s hottest Broadway shows.

PETER’S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH’S STAINTON ROOM

JOHN PIZZI, VENTRILOQUIST – One of the hottest rising comics in the entertainment industry, Pizzi has brought his unique brand of family-friendly comedy to audiences around the country. You may remember him from Season 6 of “America’s Got Talent.”

OCEAN CITY AQUATIC AND FITNESS CENTER

POOL OPEN – It is open swim in the 25-meter pool at the Aquatic and Fitness Center.

Several locations in the Ocean City Community Center will hold First Night events.

OCEAN CITY LIBRARY LECTURE HALL

OCEAN CITY HISTORY – Learn about the early history of Ocean City as a waypoint for whalers, the Lenni-Lenape and the first settlers. The event includes a presentation on the historic U.S. Life Saving Station No. 30 in Ocean City.

THE TESTOSTERTONES hail from St. Augustine Preparatory School under the direction of Mr. Matthew Wolf. The all-male a cappella ensemble is in its fifth year and has performed and competed in various events across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including many events right here in Ocean City. The TestosterTone’s repertoire features strictly a cappella music with an emphasis on contemporary music.

QUIZZO LIVE TEAM TRIVIA – Quizzo is a seven-round, 70-question trivia contest among teams. The game rounds are: General Knowledge, Celebrity Picture Identification, Sports, Geography/ History, Entertainment and a Bonus Round.

OCEAN CITY LIBRARY CHILDREN’S ACTIVITY ROOM

STORYTELLING – Laura Kaighn of Lady Hawke Storytelling will be sharing stories of celebration, peace and promise. Perfect for the young and young at heart.

OCEAN CITY COMMUNITY CENTER ATRIUM

DJ AND FUN – Celebrate the end of 2018 with a dancing, crafts/activities and family fun in the atrium.

OCEAN CITY SENIOR CENTER

DAN CAIN MENTALIST – Specializing in the art of mentalism for over a decade. He is the only person in the history of mentalism that’s predicting the winner. Final score and specific highlights of Super Bowl 46 three months before the game.

THE PHILLY KEYS DUELING PIANOS – Bringing you all the fun and good vibes of the dueling piano mentality with song requests, sing-alongs, crowd participation and great musicianship, this new concept is revolutionizing weddings, corporate events and private parties.

OCEAN CITY HISTORICAL MUSEUM 

O.C. HISTORICAL MUSEUM – The mission of the Ocean City Historical Museum is to delight, inspire and educate the public about the story of Ocean City and to collect, preserve and promote items relevant to its heritage, traditions and memories. Come visit, explore and learn.

The Ocean City Life-Saving Station is located on Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue.

U.S. LIFESAVING STATION

U.S. LIFESAVING STATION – First Night attendees will get the first opportunity to visit the newly restored U.S. Life Saving Station 30 at the intersection of Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue.

The station operated in Ocean City from 1885 to 1915 as part of the U.S. Life Saving Service, a precursor to the modern Coast Guard. Lifesaving stations up and down the U.S. coast were positioned not only to rescue ships and sailors in distress but to serve as places of shelter and medical clinics on shorelines that were often sparsely inhabited and remote.

They were staffed with men whose motto was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” The Ocean City station will become a living history museum that will give visitors a glimpse of what life was like there in 1905.