By Maddy Vitale
There was a bit of nostalgia, a lot of laughter, and a great deal of imagination that went into Saturday’s Night in Venice boat parade.
Spectators lining the bayfront were amused as they watched the colorfully decorated boats glide along replete with music, dancing and just plain, campy fun.
Batman seemed to take front and center as the favorite for fans who filled Bayside Center, 520 Bay Ave.
“We love Batman,” said Allison McDonough, of Absecon. “This is the first year I have ever been to Night in Venice. It’s so cool to watch the boats.”
Denise Clunn, of Ocean City, said in the past she stayed away from the event because it brought so many people to town. This time she took a chance and was glad she did.
Batman was joined by his trusted sidekick Robin along with the infamous, but lovable villains, the Joker and the Riddler.
The boat parade winds its way along the backbay from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue, passing many cleverly decorated homes. The decorations are a major part of the celebration and prizes are awarded.
It took spectators to a trip back in time to the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s TV classics, without needing an old TV with rabbit ears on top.
The crowd roared its approval for old favorites including Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days, M*A*S*H, and a host of other television shows.
One of the grand marshals, Jon Dorenbos, a former Philadelphia Eagles long-snapper pumped up the crowd from his boat with the Eagles chant.
Boat parade participants also included the cast of “Beauty and, the Beast,” presented by the Ocean City Pops and Ocean City Theatre Company, the OCTC Show Choir, The Mayor and City Council and other city officials and scholarship pageant winners.
This is the 64th Night in Venice beauty queens waved to the crowds lining the bayfront. In all, about 65 boats filled with performers, local dignitaries and pageant queens navigated the bay waving at happy onlookers.
Then there were the regulars, so to speak. Leanne Haverstick, and her boyfriend, Mike Impagliazzo, both of Upper Township never miss the spectacle.
“Last year we did it by boat,” Impagliazzo said, looking out onto the bay where boaters watched from their vantage points “We wanted to watch from the Bayside Center to see it up close and personal.”
Ocean City Recreation Manager Wendy Moyle who oversees the Bayside Center venue for the event, said it is great for a lot of generations. People can have picnics, there is face painting for the kids, food and of course, a great view of the boat parade.
Tickets sold out fast for the family-friendly night, which ended with fireworks.
Jessica and Rich Amorosa, of Ocean City, and their children Aurora, 6, Lilyanna, 8, Sophia, 10, and Alex, 14, were all set to watch their first-ever Night in Venice.
“I’m super excited,” said Aurora.
Rose Vanlaeys and her daughter Claire were visiting family in Ocean City for the weekend. This was their first Night in Venice.
“I always wanted to come to Night and Venice. It is a lot of fun,” she said.
Night in Venice is the oldest boat parade and bayfront celebration at the Jersey Shore, according to Ocean City officials.