By Maddy Vitale
Martin Z. Mollusk paraded onto the beach at Ninth Street in Ocean City Saturday morning, escorted by his entourage, which included former Philadelphia Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos and well-known magician, who held the crustacean’s cage high.
For a time, the diminutive sea creature owned the place, while fans anxiously awaited his prediction of an early summer.
And like more than four decades before, Ocean City’s hermit-crab mascot saw his shadow, signifying the prediction of an early summer – the Ocean City version of Groundhog Day.
The Ocean City Primary School choir serenaded Martin with the Ocean City theme song and Reagan DeVlieger, 12, a sixth grader at the Ocean City Intermediate School, recited a special poem written by former Ocean City Public Relations Director Mark Soifer, who created the event in 1974.
Michael Hartman, the city’s director of special events, always dynamic, roused the crowd, as all eyes were on the crab, plopped down in a hula hoop, near his seashell-studded throne.
Hartman called out to the audience that he thought Martin saw his shadow. When the crowd agreed, applause erupted.
The sun will continue to shine, and summer will arrive early – all thanks to Martin Z. Mollusk.
But the prediction was something that Lucy Cox, of Pennsylvania, was sure of before the mollusk even showed up.
Wearing large purple sunglasses and proudly displaying her new shirt with a design of a hermit crab on it, she said, “He’s going to see his shadow. I know it.”
Dorenbos, who seemed to enjoy the goofy event, told the crowd that he loves Ocean City for many reasons.
“It’s tradition, community and family,” Dorenbos said. “Ocean City has good energy and everything you want in a beach town.”
Dorenbos, who does magic tricks and had a performance scheduled for Saturday night, said Ocean City is like a second home to him.
To add to the excitement, was the announcement of the 2018 Martin Z. Mollusk Coloring Contest. Lana Clevenger, Lillyanna Amoroso, Isabella Baron and Edith Heywood were all honored and their artwork unveiled to the public.
Lillyanna, 7, a first-grader from Ocean City, commented after the event that she was really happy and so surprised by her win. She then explained how she drew a picture of sea gulls trying to get her sandwiches.
“Sea gulls are not our family’s friend,” Lilyanna’s mom Jessica Amoroso joked.
People lined up to get their pictures taken with Dorenbos and of course, the crab. This year the added touch was a giant, inflatable Martin Z. Mollusk likeness.
Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said every year the event gets better and better.
“It is a fun, family event and one of the many creations of Mark Soifer,” Bergen said. “It really is a great tradition.”
Rick and Beth Lauro brought their children Paige, 3, and Violet, 6, to see the crustacean.
The family came down from Pennsylvania for Mother’s Day weekend and had no idea what Martin Z. Mollusk was all about.
But the giant inflatable Martin Z. Mollusk roused their suspicions.
“We were just walking on the beach and saw it,” Rick Lauro said.
Beth Lauro added that it was a really fun event for the kids, who got to get their picture taken with not only the Martin balloon, but also Miss Ocean City Madison Leigh Kennelly, Miss Junior Ocean City Hope Aita and Little Miss Ocean City Ginger Mumman.