By MADDY VITALE
With his rusted-shut leather briefcase in hand, Ocean City realtor John Walton addressed City Council on Thursday night. He was there on official business to highlight some of the plans for one of the wackiest traditions in the resort – the Business Persons Plunge.
Walton organizes the plunge, now in its 20th year. The popular event is held at start of the Memorial Day weekend and is meant to herald in a robust tourism season for the business community.
“This is not the suit,” Walton said to Ocean City Council members Thursday, in his dry delivery, of his outfit, noting that it was not the business suit he wears each year for the plunge.
Walton will be at the helm of the plunge dressed in an Italian-brand Trussini business suit that he bought in 1996 for about $1,500. He will lead the way carrying the American flag.
The plunge will be held rain or shine Friday, May 26, at noon at the Ninth Street beach next to the Music Pier. Participants will gather at 11:30 a.m. to prepare for the march.
“Over 100 businesses and organizations and mascots have committed to this event,” Walton said. “There are many new businesses that are very excited to participate. They will be displaying their business attire, their costumes.”
The event begins after dignitaries officially “open” the ocean for the summer with the “Unlocking of the Ocean” celebration.
With the Ocean City High School Marching Band leading the way, a banner plane advertising the silly display, businesspeople, some sharply dressed, others opting for costumes, will head to the water to welcome the new season.
Walton told Council that after Mayor Jay Gillian, Council members and other dignitaries officially “unlock” the ocean, “the bugle will sound.”
“The Ocean City High School marching band will play Pomp and Circumstance and over 100 committed organizations and businesses in cadence will march into the ocean,” Walton said.
Among the participants will be a singer to perform the national anthem. Members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol, which is celebrating its 125th year anniversary, will join in the celebration. Ocean City pageant winners and local Boy Scouts will also participate. The Marine Corps Color Guard and a host of other groups and organizations will join in, many of whom will take a quick splash in the surf.
“This is a rain or shine event. If there is sunshine, we anticipate over 1,000 people watching,” Walton noted. “We seem to be gathering more and more fans — people who want to watch this zany, paparazzi-filled, crazy event.”