WINTERFEST

Walk around Winterfest of Lights at Northside Park on 125th Street, then hang around the area for the Town of Ocean City’s New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration.

The Town of Ocean City’s New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration is on schedule this year with festivities starting at 11 p.m. on Dec. 31, and will include a Radio Ocean City live video stream from Florida.

Jamaica Avenue outside of Bourbon Street on the Beach at 126th Street, bayside, will be shut down to accommodate the event that will feature a big screen with music and a countdown to midnight.

Prizes will also be given out once the countdown starts, leading up to the post-midnight fireworks, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

Radio Ocean City will be streaming live from the Coconut Cove Resort in Islamorada, with around 100 people from Ocean City in attendance, according to Radio Ocean City CEO and radio personality Chrissy Birmingham Auker.

The adjacent Winterfest of Lights will shut down at 10:30 p.m. and attendees will need to vacate Northside Park by 11 p.m. Attendees can watch the fireworks on the surrounding sidewalks and parking lots.

“We’re doing things a little differently,” Ocean City Special Events Director Frank Miller said. “On the (Winterfest) walking path this year, the guide wires are in the same position as previous years with the tram. The number of displays we have means we can’t have a large number of people gather in Northside Park on the grass fields. We’re going back to what we used to do — crowds can gather in the ball field lots outside.”

The yearly Christmas celebration has already surpassed most of its 2020 revenue numbers and is closing in on possibly being the most successful Winterfest in the last five years.

Miller said revenue numbers are up about 10 percent from 2019, when guests viewed the displays while riding on a tram. Winterfest was changed to a walk-thru event in 2020 because of covid.

Ticket sales have already surpassed 2020 and are closing in on 2019’s totals. It’s still possible that ticket sales will surpass 2017 and 2018, but Miller said that’s not a guarantee.

As usual, Thanksgiving weekend has been the busiest weekend so far. However, the busiest single day this year occurred a week later on Saturday, Dec. 4, Miller said, with ticket sales for that day bringing in $26,300.

“(Winterfest has gone) very well,” Miller said of the reception to this year’s Winterfest. “We are still receiving all kinds of positive compliments on the walking path versus the historic tram. The exception is that some of the older crowd have trouble walking longer distances. When the temperature falls, more people would rather be riding around under a warm blanket than walking. But for the most part, it’s still mostly positive.”

Winterfest is open until Jan. 1. Tickets cost $5 for guests over 12 years old. Admission is free for children under 12. The fireworks celebration is free to attend.

The town is also offering a free bus service on New Year’s Eve, as it typically has. The free bus service begins Dec. 31 at 6 a.m. and lasts until 4 a.m. on Jan. 1.

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on Dec. 24, 2021.

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