museum

Gregory and Wendy Santiago look at the books and candles available in the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum store during their recent visit.

(Jan. 8, 2021) Many observe the holiday season by putting up Christmas trees, setting up their menorahs or going to see light displays. Some members of the Ocean City community and visitors, however, greeted the season masked and socially distanced at the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum.

The museum, located at the southern end of the Boardwalk, held its annual holiday open house on Sunday, Dec. 6. The event consisted of free admission to browse the exhibits, special deals and mystery gifts in the museum’s store section.

The purpose of the open house is to invite residents and visitors to celebrate the holidays and to help the museum become a part of the community’s festivities.

Museum Aide Robin Breeden helped to wrap and coordinate the items from the museum store that went into the mystery gifts for the event. This was the first time Christmas mystery gifts were offered.

She said she coupled merchandise together for both adults and children, and that the money from the purchased gifts would go back into the museum.

The event is a chance for people to learn about the cultural and natural history of Ocean City, including the men and women who started the resort, and the inhabitants of the coastal bays and oceans.

Cathy Siegel, who owns property in the resort and normally visits for the winter, attended the event for the first time with her husband.

She said she had passed the museum many times either walking or biking on the Boardwalk but had never come inside. She said she thinks it is interesting to learn about how the area was and wonders what it will be like in the future.

“I just think it’s nice to know about your past,” Siegel said.

Susan Newland, another property owner, said she found out about the event while walking on the Boardwalk.

She said the event made her feel more connected to the community because she sees the similarities between the people of the past and those in the present.

“They still had their struggles and they still had their joys,” Newland said. “It’s basically what it is today.”

Wendy and Gregory Santiago, who were visiting their Berlin property, had never been to the open house event, but had visited the museum.

Wendy Santiago said her favorite part was looking at all the old photographs, and Gregory said learning about the number of women proprietors and builders in the city’s history was an eye-opener for him.

Both agreed that the event made them feel closer to their community. Gregory Santiago said he felt the outreach to the community was positive.

“It’s good. We need to connect,” Gregory Santiago said.

Museum Curator Christine Okerblom moved from Salisbury to Berlin, where she now lives with her husband. She said she has always enjoyed the museum work and being a part of the informal education setting.

“Working here, looking at old photographs, artifacts and really getting a feel for the commitment, the resiliency and the entrepreneurship that’s present in Ocean City makes you feel more connected and proud to be working here,” Okerblom said.

The museum, open for events like the holiday open house and on weekends, helps to provide the community with something safe to do, she said. It is currently operating at 50 percent capacity and is abiding by government covid safety directives.

“We take a lot of pride in that,” Okerblom said.

Those restrictions forced the cancellation of some aspects of the open house, but Okerblom said the event still worked.

“We’re not disappointed,” Okerblom said. “We feel like we’re just adapting and doing what’s necessary to keep people safe.”

For more information about the museum, visit www.ocmuseum.org or call 410-289-4991.

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