(Dec. 28, 2018) From frigid penguin swims, a record-breaking Sunfest and $2 million won for a local children’s charity, here are some of the year’s top stories:

Penguin Swim

Despite air temperature of about 23 degrees, with the wind chill about 10 degrees and ocean temperature of 39 degrees, several hundred men, women and children sprinted into the water for the 24th annual New Year’s Day Penguin Swim, a fundraiser for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin.

“The event went very well, considering the circumstances with the weather,” said Kam LaBrunda, co-organizer of the event and development analyst for the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation. “Participants and spectators still had a blast enjoying activities in the [Princess Royale] Atrium – carnival games, heated pool, live music and costume contest. Many participants still wore a variety of costumes into the water, despite the frigid temperatures.”

Over the years, the temperature has ranged from the upper 30s and 40s, to a high of nearly 70 degrees.

A total of 340 people registered or checked-in for the swim at the Princess Royale on 91st Street. They were then joined on the beach by about 100 or so guests, who gathered at Bull on the Beach bar and restaurant on 94th Street prior to the event. 

Penguin swim

More than $98,000 was raised by 420 people during the 24th annual AGH Penguin Swim on New Year’s Day.

At 1 p.m., they ran into the ocean at 91st Street. Some participants just got their feet wet, while others totally submerged their bodies.

About $98,000 was raised for the Berlin hospital. In 24 years, the Penguin Swim has raised about $1.2 million for the hospital.

AGH has been providing health care to residents of Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties, as well as Sussex County, Delaware, since May 1993. For more information about Atlantic General Hospital, visit www.atlanticgeneral.org.

The 2019 event will take place New Year’s Day beginning at 1 p.m.

Komen Race for the Cure

More than 1,500 people participated in the eighth annual Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure and raised $165,254 on April 14, on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

“Susan G. Komen’s sole focus is a world without breast cancer,” said Kim Schmulowitz, communications and marketing director of Komen Maryland. “Founded in 1982, Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease.”


Cancer survivors and race participants run on the Boardwalk during the seventh annual Ocean City Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure in early April.

The event raises awareness, support and funds for breast cancer research with a 5K fun run or walk and a 1-mile family walk.

Since the inaugural event in 2012, Ocean City cancer survivors, supporters and race participants have raised more than $1.5 million for the organization.

Komen has set a bold goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the United States by 2026.

“This event celebrates survivors, honors those living with the disease and remembers those we have lost,” Schmulowitz said.

The 2019 Race for the Cure will take place April 13.

OC Air Show

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds headlined the 11th annual Ocean City Air Show, which showcases a number of military aircrafts performing acrobatic displays over the beach downtown from June 10-11.


The Thunderbirds soar through the sky during the 11th annual Ocean City Airshow on June 15-16 in front of an audience of thousands of people.

Performers included the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, C-17 Globemaster III, L-39 Cold War Era Jet Demo, U.S. Coast Guard Search & Rescue Demo, P-51 Mustang Demo, GEICO Skytypers, United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team – the “Para-Commandos,” B-25 Mitchell “Panchito” WWII Bomber and aerobatic pilot Scott Francis.

Depending on the weather, hundreds of thousands of people watch the Ocean City Air Show from the Boardwalk, hotels, on the beach or on a boat in the ocean and bay each year.

“While I can’t speak for the city, I can tell you that the Ocean City Air Show has clearly become an event that families plan for each year,” said Chris Dirato, director of public relations. “In fact, many schedule their vacation around the show. It’s become a tradition in a sense. The show attracts fans from the entire region which clearly provides an economic benefit to the city in the form of filled hotel rooms and busy restaurants.”

The 2019 Ocean City Air Show will take place June 15-16 and featured performances from the Blue Angels and the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds. Visit www.ocairshow.com to purchase a show package. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/ocairshow.


Ocean City’s 44th annual Sunfest celebration in September attracted the largest crowd in the festival’s history as 268,406 people came to the inlet parking lot to shop, dance, eat and drink.

The festival kicked off Sept. 20, with an opening ceremony followed by musical acts.


The 44th annual Sunfest, held at the inlet parking lot from Sept. 20-23, holds the largest attendance record in the event’s history – 268,406.

More than 300 vendors under large tents were featured during the four-day event, which welcomes the fall season.

“Sunfest has been on the growth trend – the combination of the event, beach, Boardwalk and other Ocean City businesses and attractions makes this event a powerful tool for families, friends and couple engagement,” Special Events Director Frank Miller said. “Our guests enjoy their overall experience and we have a large percentage of visitors who make Sunfest an annual venture.”

This year breaks the record set in 2016, when attendance hit 251,577. In 2017, 235,637 visited the festival.

According to Miller, this was also the most profitable year for vendors.Weather was also a contributor to the high numbers for this year’s festival.

The 2019 Sunfest festival will take place Sept. 19-22.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

The eighth annual Ocean City Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K run and walk took place Saturday, Oct. 20, on the Boardwalk, with proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society.

“The funds for the race support the breast cancer program at the American Cancer Society,” Mary Bellis, senior community development manager for the Northeast Region of the American Cancer Society, Inc., said. “Our goal is to find the cure to cancer but in the meantime, to maximize people’s quality of life, whether that’s providing transportation to treatment or giving them information to help make treatment decisions, or giving them free wigs or connecting them to our cancer support community.”


Hundreds participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K run and walk at the inlet parking lot on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Several hundred runners, walkers and spectators participated.

Visit www.makingstrides walk.org/oceancitymd or “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Ocean City, MD” on Facebook. Contact Mary Bellis at Mary.Bellis@cancer.org or call 410-749-1635.

The Ocean City Making Strides 5K run and walk is one of several events that make up the Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series, an assortment of local activities to increase breast cancer awareness while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

In 2018, $289,000 has been raised through the Pink Ribbon Classic at the Beach Series, Bellis said. Donations can still be made until Dec. 31.

The Pink Ribbon Classic Series was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers. Since its inception, the series has raised about $3.4 million for breast cancer research, awareness, programs and services.

To learn more about the American Cancer Society, visit www.cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345. Visit makingstrideswalk.org/oceancitymd for more information. Find the chapter on Facebook at www.facebook.com/makingstridesoc or at the Twitter handle @OCMDStrides.

The 2019 event will take place. Oct. 19.

Believe in Tomorrow

Wayne Littleton, coordinator for the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Respite Housing Program in Ocean City, is known for saying “ordinary people do extraordinary things,” which must have been the case leading the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation to win $100,000 and a two-year partnership with NASCAR.


Carl Dakes, of Crofton, is the eighth winner of the annual NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award as a representative of Believe in Tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 29. Dakes won the organization $100,000 and a two-year charity partnership with NASCAR.

Carl Dakes, a longtime volunteer with Believe in Tomorrow, was chosen by an online fan vote as the winner of The NASCAR Foundation’s eighth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.

The award ceremony took place in Las Vegas Nov. 29.

“It was just an unbelievable experience to walk on that stage and look out all the people who were there,” Dakes said. “I’ve won trophies in the past, but nothing has ever come close to this.”

Dakes, of Crofton, Maryland, is a paint contractor by profession and president of The Dakes Company Inc. He has volunteered thousands of hours over the past 18 years, painting all nine Believe in Tomorrow facilities, including the pediatric hospital in Baltimore and several respite houses spanning from North Carolina to Fenwick Island.

Dakes and Believe in Tomorrow came out on top out of four national finalists, all competing for a different children’s organization. For four weeks from Oct. 24 to Nov. 19, online voting took place every day to determine the winner.

A two-year partnership with NASCAR will “bring greater awareness about what Believe in Tomorrow does,” foundation CEO Brian Morrison said.

“It allows us to really be a part of the NASCAR family and to get our mission and our name out there,” Morrison said.

Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation provides hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families. Since 1982, Believe in Tomorrow has provided over 900,000 individual overnight accommodations, from every state in the U.S. and more than 82 countries worldwide.

The Believe in Tomorrow facility on 66th Street in Ocean City is open year-round to provide a free getaway to the beach for critically ill children and their families whenever they may need to escape the stresses of their child’s illness.

Families can also vacation at the Believe in Tomorrow House in Fenwick Island and House by the Bay on 28th Street. Learn more about Believe in Tomorrow at http://believeintomorrow.org or call Littleton at 443-978-0680.

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