By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City celebrated Martin Z. Mollusk Day on Saturday and yes, folks, the crustacean indeed saw his shadow, which means summer is on its way a week early.
Although the annual event did not take place at its traditional location on the beach, which was closed until Saturday afternoon as part of a prolonged shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the city’s mollusk mascot came through with the early prediction, as he has done for 47 years.
In a spoof of an actual news event, Michael Hartman, special events coordinator for the city, broadcast from the Roy Gillian Welcome Center with Miss Ocean City Mary Grace Jamison, Junior Miss Natalie Argento and Little Miss Antonella DiAntonio to cover Martin’s exploits.
Then the exciting moment came, when Hartman walked into the Welcome Center to see Martin Z. Mollusk himself.
Hartman carefully approached and put the spotlight — actually, it was a flashlight — on Martin and his shadow magically appeared.
“It is May 9 and it is freezing and there is this crazy pandemic. This was an opportunity to add levity in the day, just enjoy to laugh and see things through kids’ eyes,” Hartman said of the zany event. “We were trying to send a message to have fun but also to stay home and practice social distancing as a reminder of the importance of the things we need to do to have a great summer.”
Video courtesy City of Ocean City and Just Right TV Productions
A coloring contest featuring Martin Z. Mollusk-themed pictures produced 100 entries. Three favorites were selected by the queens.
The winners of the 2020 Martin Z. Mollusk Kids Coloring Contest were:
- Addison Bechtold, age 7
- Lilly Margolis, age 8
- Caroline Bickings, age 10
Hartman said the winners have gifts coming to them in the near future.
“I will be reaching out to the winners and we have prize packages for all of them,” he noted.
Hartman said they had fun doing the virtual Martin Z. Mollusk Day celebration. But, he emphasized, he can’t wait until Martin and his “wife” Mollie can get back out on the Ocean City beach.
“Ultimately, I think it was good for the kids and for parents to see Martin Z’s video,” Hartman said. “It is lighthearted and unique and it shows the passion and uniqueness of our community. We all have to be more creative in thinking. This event reminds us that no matter what, there is the spirit of Martin Z. in all of us. We will have a summer.”
He added that Mark Soifer, who was in charge of public relations for many years in Ocean City before retiring, created the popular event, along with a host of others that continue years later.
“As I was doing the video, I thought about Mark Soifer. It is his legacy and for me, it was not an option, we were going to celebrate Martin Z. Mollusk Day today.”
The video may also be viewed at “Ocean City NJ” Facebook page or www.ocnj.us.