Ocean City Today


Oct 05, 2017



printed 10/06/2017


As Ocean City officials, residents and businesses who witnessed or were caught in the mayhem of last weekend discuss how to prevent that from happening again, the first thing to do is eliminate this “sanctioned event” versus “unsanctioned event” business.

These labels suggest that Ocean City government has real control over who can congregate in the resort, when it has no gatekeeping authority at all. It can’t check passports, stamp hands at the entrances or declare portions of the resort off-limits to certain people and not others.

Besides, the only difference between a “sanctioned” and “unsanctioned” event is the former generally involves the privilege of using city property for some purpose. Organizers and participants who don’t want or need that can do what they want, as long as they don’t break the law.

This is why Mayor Rick Meehan is correct when he says the only way to block another knucklehead convention like the one last weekend is for government, business and residents to unite to make Ocean City unavailable or undesirable to that element and those like it.

Unfortunately, as Meehan observed, that’s going to hurt, since it will require some sacrifices that neither residents nor businesses will want to make. A poll of year-round residents, for instance, probably would find they would be delighted to see the end to all noisy special events, especially the ones involving vehicles. Businesses, not so much.

Bridging that divide would take some doing, but it also must be said if an event draws a sizable bad element and creates major problems for law enforcement, that attraction ought to be ended, even if it’s not directly at fault.

One possible approach to preventing another H2Oi-type debacle is to do some counter-programming by promoting well in advance a deeply discounted exclusive family weekend along the lines of Restaurant Week to coincide with that show’s schedule. The city also might sponsor some superior weekend entertainment that would not appeal to that car show’s fans.

Looking for some way to make event organizers liable for the behavior of their followers can’t be done without jeopardizing every public celebration that involves sales of beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages. Similarly, closing sections of roads would have serious downsides.

Meehan’s call for unity suggests he has some ideas tucked away. Business owners and residents should hear what he has to say, while also coming up with their own reasonable suggestions on how to stop this craziness before it ruins everything.

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