By MADDY VITALE
The Ocean City Spring Block Party didn’t bring with it sunny skies Saturday or warm temps, for that matter, typically associated with the blockbuster event year after year.
But it did bring a lot of families who opted to dress for the occasion, tote their umbrellas and just have a good time — buying merchandise from beach gear to trinkets to household items, to eating a lot of baked goods and other food.
The rain pelted Asbury Avenue in the late morning and early afternoon. Cloud cover left the skies gray.
But crowds continued to come, browse vendor tables, wait in line for fresh cut flowers, eat their favorite food and listen to the live entertainment.
Dave Hiester, of Cherry Hill, and his daughter, Maeve, 4, walked down the avenue with his parents, Michelle and Kim Hiester, of Sicklerville, with their dog, Murphy, and an umbrella in hand.
“Even though it’s raining, it’s still nice to be out supporting local businesses,” Dave Hiester said.
While the family was enjoying some time shopping, Maeve’s twin sister, Mallory, and other sister, Madeleine, were getting their hair braided at a nearby vendor table, Hiester said.
“It’s just great for us and the kids,” Michelle Hiester said, before heading to the family’s next stop, a booth that sold Italian food.
More than 350 crafters, food vendors and entertainers lined a mile of downtown Asbury Avenue between Fifth Street and 14th Street. The live entertainment was in Mark Soifer Park and served as background music during the event, which went from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Michael Allegretto, aide to Mayor Jay Gillian, said the event, which is sponsored by the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, is always a good time for families.
“Rain or shine, the block party is always a great event in the downtown,” Allegretto said. “It is one of the annual events that our local residents and visitors look forward to every year. People enjoy getting food and merchandise from their favorite vendors.”
Each year, the block party helps draw tens of thousands of people to Ocean City for a pre-summer weekend of fun,
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spring Block Party wasn’t held in 2020 and 2021. So, Saturday was extra special for families with the return of the mega-event.
Jack Donahue, 8, and his 9-year-old sister, Brooke, held beach balls as they walked with their parents and checked out some summer-themed vendor booths, which drew the attention of strollers despite the rainy weather.
“Our next stop is to get some pies,” said Laura Donahue, Jack and Brooke’s mom. “This is our first Spring Block Party in Ocean City, and it is fun. But I am sure it would be better if it didn’t rain.”
Carrie Mehl, of Harleysville, Pa., and her daughter, Sutton, 5, and mother, Marsha Stevens, enjoyed a “girls’ day.”
“The men stayed home,” Mehl said with a laugh. “We are doing fun things together today.”
As for the weather, the Mehls and Stevens didn’t seem to mind it too much as they looked at some information on the Ocean City Theatre Company table.
“It’s a lot more fun than staying home,” Stevens said.