Summer kickoff

Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguards join Mayor Rick Meehan and Gov. Larry Hogan, standing left and right of sign, respectively, during Ocean City’s Ceremonial Summer Kickoff event last Friday on the beach.

(May 31, 2019) A sunny morning sky and 100 umbrellas provided the backdrop for the recreation of a 73-year-old photograph at Ocean City’s Ceremonial Summer Kickoff on the beach last Friday.

Gov. Larry Hogan, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, elected officials, lifeguards, and community members gathered to commemorate the event, aided by a huge blow-up 0f the 1946 photograph of Gov. Herbert O’Connor, Mayor Daniel Trimper Jr., Suzanne and Mary Lou Mason, Betsy Jane Dennis and Esther Simpson.

“They celebrated the same way we’re celebrating here today, by pitching the first umbrella of the season on the beach,” Meehan said.

Meehan said the purpose of the photograph was to promote America’s Finest Resort Town, and that tradition evolved to showcase 100 umbrellas in recognition of the 100 days of summer.

“Aside from the obvious wardrobe differences, it’s interesting to see how much has changed since that time,” Meehan said. “The governor and I are a beach governor and a beach mayor, so we dress a little differently.”

Hogan said he was pleased to be dressed casually as he made the trip to Ocean City.

“I just love this recreation,” Hogan said. “I’m glad we did not have to wear the suits.”

Along with Hogan, his wife, Yumi, and his grandchildren were also in attendance. 

“I was not here in 1946 for the original planting picture, but I came around about 10 years later,” Hogan said.

Hogan celebrated his 63rd birthday and said he planned to spend it with his grandchildren on the Ocean City Boardwalk having “junk food all day” and taking in the rides at the amusements. 

However, Hogan and Meehan agreed that honoring the memories of soldiers on Memorial Day was paramount.

While the ceremony and Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to the summer season, Meehan reminded the crowd of the holiday’s purpose.

“It’s a time to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and that’s really the true meaning and what we ought to be thinking about this weekend,” Meehan said.

Meehan said of the roughly eight million people who come to Ocean City, approximately four million people visit during the three months of summer.

“While Ocean City has grown into a year-round destination, summer remains our most popular time of the year, for people to visit,” Meehan said.

As Hogan observed, in an apparent reference to his tangle with legislature over when the state’s schools should begin the new school year, “Summer does last all the way through to Labor Day. In case anybody forgot.”

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