Home Latest Stories Ocean City’s Night in Venice to Feature Jimmy Buffett Theme

Ocean City’s Night in Venice to Feature Jimmy Buffett Theme

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The Night in Venice boat parade attracts many spectators who enjoy the show from the picturesque bayfront. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City)

By MADDY VITALE

The Night in Venice boat parade and house decorating contest is a celebration on the water and at homes along the bayfront in Ocean City. Each July, the signature event attracts throngs of visitors and residents.

And every year, the Night in Venice (NIV) Planning Committee creates a theme that boat owners and homeowners can follow if they choose to or do their own theme.

The theme for this year’s event is “Summertime Vibes: A Tribute to Jimmy Buffett,” to honor the memory of the legendary musician whose career spanned 50 years. He died last September.

The parade will be held July 20 beginning at 6:30 p.m. NIV Chairman Dave Winslow, who is also an Ocean City councilman, said the blockbuster annual tradition, now in its 69th year, is always a great time for families. The grand marshal will be announced at a later date, officials said, once the details are worked out.

“We’re looking forward to a great parade. People love it. We spent a lot of time considering different themes,” Winslow said in an interview Friday. “There are so many options for people to decorate their boats and homes with the Jimmy Buffett theme.”

Boat and house entries are currently being accepted online at www.ocnj.us/NIV or by calling 609-399-6111.

Spectators can watch the boat parade along the bayfront from Bayside Center and street ends. Many families enjoy the parade from private house parties. The route runs from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue.

Check out the homes decorated along the bayfront in 2023. (Photo courtesy of OCNJDrone)

Mayor Jay Gillian said he is looking forward to this year’s parade and believes the theme will be a big hit.

“A tribute to Jimmy Buffett is perfect for our summertime event,” Gillian said. “I’m excited to work with Dave and the committee to make this year’s event better than ever.”

Winslow has served as chairman of the NIV celebration for many years, beginning in the 1980s. The other members of the NIV Committee are Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian, Ocean City Community Services Director Dan Kelchner and Mayor Gillian.

The event is not only a major celebration for a day and evening, but it also means big business for the shore town throughout the weekend, Michele Gillian said in an interview Friday.

“Night in Venice has always been a major signature event for Ocean City. It brings people from all over the region for one of the biggest boat parades in the region,” Gillian said. “The commerce that it brings is outstanding. The accommodations are full. The rentals are full. Our area supermarkets are busy and party planners and caterers are busy. Night in Venice really boosts business.”

She said it really is a “three-day holiday.”

“Attractions on the Boardwalk are well-attended on the weekend and there is always downtown shopping for the small gift for the party on the bay,” she pointed out. “We really hit every segment of commerce with this event.”

The Night in Venice Committee from left, Community Services Director Dan Kelchner, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michele Gillian, Committee Chairman Dave Winslow and Mayor Jay Gillian. (Photo courtesy of Ocean City)

Winslow noted that a thorough safety plan is planned as it is each year for the boat parade.

“This year, we’ve done a very robust safety plan where we will communicate to boat owners where and when they can go and engage a meteorologist to give a detail of activity in the area in plenty of time for boats to head for shelter,” Winslow said if there is a storm. “There will also be designated safety zones and some hosting stations.”

Last year’s theme was “It’s a Philly Thing” and featured sports mascots. But a storm, complete with lightning, forced boaters in for safety until it passed. Winslow said, like every year, officials consult with a meteorologist to give the current weather conditions.

“We always try to plan, and that’s why we have all the law enforcement in the bay to be the eyes and ears. The Coast Guard and other law enforcement folks did a phenomenal job last year,” Winslow added.

Fireworks are planned to be the grand finale to the annual celebration.

This year’s sponsors are Acme and OCNJ Watersports.

Flyers mascot Gritty peeks out from the balloons in 2023 while entertaining the spectators from one of the boats early in the parade.

 

Paid for by Michael DeVlieger