(May 24, 2019) The 30th annual Ocean City Play It Safe program, which runs from May 29 until June 14, will provide a full slate of activities to encourage healthy and safe decisions among the traditional deluge of graduating high school seniors.
The annual educational campaign aimed at reducing alcohol and drug use during “Senior Week,” is produced by the Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee through a partnership with the Worcester County Health Department and the Town of Ocean City.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee Chairwoman Donna Greenwood said avoiding previous incidents involving high school graduates was the impetus for launching Play It Safe three decades ago.
“It’s a labor of love for us,” she said. “We want them to take home wonderful memories.”
Looking to foster public safety, Play It Safe provides graduates the opportunity to ride the resort buses for a weekly fee of $5 as opposed to the normal $3 per day rate.
Graduates can purchase vouchers for $5, which can be exchanged at any of the multitude of scheduled events for a wristband to ride the bus along Coastal Highway.
Tickets can be purchased at: the Boardwalk Train Stations at South First Street and 27th Street, City Hall at Third Street and Baltimore Ave., the Public Safety Building on 65th Street, bayside, the convention center on 40th Street and Ocean City Recreation & Parks offices at Northside Park on 125th Street, bayside.
Greenwood said several new offerings are sandwiched in with the 46 events scheduled over the two-and-a-half-week span, including yoga on the beach and free boat rides from OC Bay Hopper, located on 118th Street next to Food Lion.
Yoga on the beach will take place on Wednesday, June 5 and 12, from 11 a.m. to noon on the sands by Third Street and the Boardwalk.
OC Bay Hopper will provide free rides for the first 50 Play It Safe participants on three dates June 4 and 11, both Tuesdays, from noon to 2:15 p.m. and Thursday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Greenwood, who has been involved with the Play It Safe program since its inception and chair of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee for the past two decades, said this year will mark the return of the long-abandoned, “Dance Party on the Beach,” gathering.
This year the Play It Safe event line-up includes two evenings for high school graduates to display their best dance moves, on June 6 and 13, both Thursdays, from 8-10 p.m. at the Caroline Street Stage on the Boardwalk.
Greenwood said in previous years DJ Skip McGarry had laid down grooves on the beach by the inlet parking lot.
The wide array of Play It Safe activities commences on Wednesday, May 29, with free putt-putt action at Maui Miniature Golf on 57th Street from 1-3 p.m. with two more dates set on June 5 and 12 during the same time.
Other Play It Safe offerings include karaoke on the beach, 3-on-3 basketball, paddle boarding, kayaking, dodgeball, beach volleyball, laser tag, scavenger hunts and T-shirt tie-dying.
Beat the heat at the Splash Mountain Water Park at Jolly Roger on 30th Street, which will open the gates for Play It Safe participants on Thursday, June 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For those in need of a thrill, Trimper Amusements at the pier will offer free rides on its Tidal Wave Rollercoaster Sundays, June 2 and 9, from 8-10 p.m.
Pizza Tugos on 116th Street will sponsor pizza-eating contests for both the first 25 male and female high school graduates on June 1 and 8, both Saturdays, with the gorging set for 2 p.m.
The laundry list of fun activities winds down on June 14 with Karaoke on the beach and team relay races both held near Third Street and the Boardwalk from 6-8 p.m.
Greenwood said for many longtime Play It Safe volunteers this year is bittersweet following the departure of former Vice Chairman Al “Hondo” Handy who retired in March after working four decades for Ocean City Recreation and Parks.
Known for possessing a mild-mannered affable nature, Handy’s efficient and highly-organized personality lent innumerable support during the life of program, Greenwood said.
“He knew every kid in town and they knew his smile,” she said.
Greenwood said Handy’s replacement has yet to come on board and more volunteer help is still being sought for this year’s Play It Safe.
Last year, a total of 5,515 graduates participated in Play It Safe events, a slight reduction from 2017 when 6,198 took part in the free activities. Also in 2018, more than 200 volunteers worked 600 hours to support programming.
Greenwood said the safety-focused tradition is facilitated through community members and area businesses who donate money, food and prizes.
Besides the chance to win prizes such as T-shirts, hats, jewelry and restaurant gift certificates, Play It Safe encourages newly-graduated high school students to form lifetime memories of, for many, their first time away from home without parental supervisions.
“They’re the ones that have to make the choices and we hope it will be a good healthy choice,” she said.
Graduates can view the entire list of Play It Safe events online at www.playitsafeoceancity.com. Further information is available by calling the Worcester County Health Department at 410-632-1100 or searching “Play It Safe Ocean City,” on Facebook.