Ocean City Today

More than 109,000 take tour of Winterfest

Weather uncooperative, but it failed to put big damper on holiday light show crowd
By Kara Hallissey | Jan 04, 2018

(Jan. 12, 2018) Despite the colder temperatures of late fall and early winter, 109,210 passengers rode through the Winterfest of Lights from Nov. 16 to Dec. 31 at Northside Park on 127th Street.

“This year, was a pretty good gage on Winterfest [attendance] when not having optimal winter conditions,” said Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller. “We didn’t surpass numbers from the last three years, but we weren’t far from them either. This shows patrons are still willing to come out with adverse weather conditions.”

The 12-minute tram ride took guests through 58 acres of more than 400 displays of fairytale characters and holiday figures accompanied by holiday music. An average of 2,374 people rode through the park each night.

Attendance during the final weekend of the 25th annual event was on par with the last couple of years with 2,371 riders on Friday, Dec. 29, 3,700 passengers on Saturday, Dec. 30 and 1,957 on the last night, Sunday, Dec. 31. The biggest night overall was Saturday, Dec. 2, when 7,585 people road the tram.

“During the New Year’s Eve celebrations, the temperature averaged about 18 degrees,” Miller said. “When the 25th anniversary started, we were competing with numbers from 2015, which was our best year. By Thanksgiving, we were on par to surpass those numbers until we hit bad weather on Dec. 8. There was a cold spell that wouldn’t let go so we didn’t see a spike in numbers like previous years. The weather shows how it affects Winterfest dependence.”

For the sixth year, a fireworks display synchronized to music was set off at midnight on New Year’s Eve at Northside Park. It was well attended with 1,957 people riding the Winterfest Express and hundreds of people coming out to join in the festivities, Miller said.

“There was a late celebration crowd for the fireworks, which is similar to what we have seen in previous years,” Miller said. “Because it was freezing, there was a full tent all night.”

Winterfest of Lights has a different layout each year to keep excursions fresh for returning visitors. Riders are challenged to find their favorite displays in new locations. The city’s crew began setup in early October to transform the park into a winter wonderland.

“People still love Winterfest and we want them to see something new and different every year,” Miller said. “Our goal is to put up one new display every year and rotate out old displays so there is less repetition."

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