Ocean City Today

Perfect weather equates to profitable July 4 celebration

City estimates thousands of people took advantage of long weekend, holiday
By Kara Hallissey | Jul 06, 2017

(July 7, 2017) Sunny skies and good weather brought another crowded Fourth of July weekend to Ocean City, even though the one-day interval between the holiday itself and the weekend saw some visitors departing before the grand finale Tuesday.

“Ocean City was bustling this weekend,” said Jessica Waters, Town of Ocean City communications manager. “It was great to see so many people take advantage of a long weekend and using the holiday to spend time with their family and friends in Ocean City. The crowds on the Boardwalk were great and traffic was heavy, which indicates that people were out and about.”

Melanie Pursel, executive director for the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, said most hotels were at capacity based on the limited number of calls received about vacancies.

“The town was pretty packed and the weather was nice,” Pursel said. “It was a very successful Fourth. People came in early and did make a weekend out if it. Sunday was packed with a lot of families on the beach. By all accounts, it was a great weekend.”

Tracy Owes, chef at the Big Easy on 60, agreed with Pursel.

“We did very well for our first Fourth of July,” Owes said. He added that the restaurant’s success over the holiday period bodes well for the next two months of summer.

Downtown at Fish Tales on 22nd Street, business was booming and food sales were up from last year.

“The weekend was good and we were extremely happy. Monday was busier than Sunday,” owner Shawn Harman said. “It was weird with July 4th falling on a Tuesday. No one was here and then we would get crowded.”

Although the popular July 4 hot dog-eating contest brought a crowd to the bayside establishment, no one signed up until the day before the competition, which had organizers nervous.

“The hot dog-eating contest is always exciting. We ended up having 15 people participate and we gave away $2,000 in prize money,” Harman said. “On Tuesday, there was not a parking spot to be found. I noticed a lot of New York and New Jersey license plates. More than I have ever seen.”

Harman believes vacationers from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, who generally frequent the Jersey Shore, changed their plans after  state’s beaches were closed because of a budget impasse and a subsequent government shutdown.

“I truly believe (New Jersey Gov.) Chris Christie closing down the state parks in New Jersey brought people here and it had a big impact,” Harman said. “It’s a double bonus. We were busy and vacationers who have never been here were exposed to Ocean City.”

Uptown at the Crab Bag on 130th Street, waits were minimal, partly as a result of the restaurant’s addition of 400 more seats. About 300 seats were added via a new deck and bar area outside and 100 more were created inside.

“The weather was so beautiful that everyone was sitting outside and having a great time this year,” said Crab Bag co-owner Albert Levy. “Everything went very smooth and we sold a lot of crabs all week.”

The city’s best guess at crowd size for the weekend was in the 300,000-person range. The inlet parking lot was filled up by noon on the Fourth of July, Waters said, and side streets on the bayside in the downtown area filled up as well.

“July 4th … sets us up for the next several weeks of summer,” Waters said. That said, most Ocean City businesses expect the good numbers to continue, with the next economic checkpoint coming on Aug. 7-11 during this year’s White Marlin Open fishing tournament.

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