Ocean City Today
https://oceancitytoday.villagesoup.com/p/1689817

H2-Whoa

Car event is off, but some will still come
By Katie Tabeling | Sep 21, 2017
File Photo

(Sept. 22, 2017) Even though H2O International (H2Oi) car show has been postponed and won’t take place next weekend as originally scheduled, Ocean City officials are skeptical that next weekend will be calm.

“I still think a lot of people will come down,” Councilman Matt James said. “Social media helps create underground events, and people have already booked hotel rooms. Even though we’ve never approved a permit for H2Oi in the past, they come down here anyways.”

The official car show for water-cooled imported European cars is traditionally held at Fort Whaley campground in Whaleyville, but Ocean City’s streets are flooded with Volkswagens and Audis anyway, as participants cruise up and down what they call “the strip,” or Coastal Highway.

Organizers last Thursday announced on its official website that H2Oi was “postponed until next year.”

“We want to continue to offer the best in a show experience, and with changes in venue options and a diminishing timeline, it is necessary to delay the event until 2018,” the online statement said. “I personally cannot thank you enough for your continued support. I look forward to seeing you next year, when we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of H2Oi the right way!”

Following the sale of Fort Whaley two years ago to a national company, the land was rezoned last year from B-2 General Business District to A-2 agricultural, which doesn’t allow commercial uses.

Theoretically, the car show’s organizers could seek an exception from the county Board of Zoning Appeals, but H2Oi organizers made no such request, according to county Public Information Officer Kim Moses.

Jay Shoup, the car show promoter, owner and producer, could not be reached for comment.

Councilman Wayne Hartman said that the mayor and City Council did know that H2Oi organizers were struggling to find venues and heard rumors that they were looking at neighboring counties.

“I don’t want to give anyone ideas, so I’m not going to name names,” Hartman said. “If we see it crop up here next weekend, it’s a good opportunity to see how the cancelation of events would impact the town.”

For years, Ocean City Police worked with several allied agencies to keep control of the streets during the two-day car show. Police spokeswoman Lindsay Richard said that OCPD will still prepare for H2Oi like it was business as usual.

“Similar to several other large events that take place in and around Ocean City, we have been preparing for this for quite some time,” she said. “We are still anticipating to see a large number of visitors despite the event being cancelled and are planning to keep all of our plans in place.”

Several allied agencies will still be in town that weekend, including the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office, Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office and Maryland Transportation Authority.

“If it turns out that we see a smaller crowd than expected, our plan is scalable,” Richard said. “We will assess the need for extra assistance as the week progresses.”

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