(July 12, 2019) Sunny weather and a governor-sanctioned day off for state employees allowed many people to take a four-day holiday for the Fourth of July celebration, and that extra time helped make a traditionally good time better.
Fourth of July weekend is always busy, Town of Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters said.
“Fourth of July is the peak of our season. It’s the busiest weekend of the year,” Waters said. “We saw large crowds starting on Wednesday and all through the end of the weekend. Certainly, the weather plays into that, especially when our activities are dependent on the weather.”
This year’s holiday drew a crowd in excess of 300,000 in Water’s estimation, although she acknowledged there is no such thing as a precise head count.
“There’s no way of telling, but it’s certainly one of our largest crowds of the year,” Waters said, adding that excellent weather had to be a factor this year. “We saw extremely large crowds … it was fantastic.”
The lodging industry fared well, as hotels were close to filling on July 4 and 5, Susan Jones, president of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, reported.
“Saturday was, of course, very strong. Although having a holiday in the middle of the week can be a disruption for travel plans … we [still] had lots of people.”
There also was a huge crowd of “day-cationers” on July 4 and throughout the weekend, Jones said.
Restaurants and other local businesses reported a profitable July 4 weekend as well, especially those located near or right on of the Boardwalk.
“Fourth of July was awesome,” Ocean 13 Owner Jeremy Brink said. “It started getting busier Tuesday through Saturday. It was really good ... it was very, very busy in both restaurants. You [could] watch the fireworks from our porch.”
In retail, “Park Place has a very successful Fourth of July weekend,” Park Place Jewelers owner Jill Ferrante said. “I think the whole town was very busy. We saw lots of customers on the Boardwalk as well as our new location in West Ocean City.
As always, weather was considered a factor for the significant crowds which could be spotted on the beach and throughout the resort.
“I think the weather was great. It brought a lot of people into town,” Ferrante added. “July 4 and 5 were very busy. We were very lucky, we had a nice long four-day weekend. We had amazing weather, it was a great night for the fireworks, the Boardwalk was packed and a lot of the Boardwalk businesses did well.”
One restaurant owned by the Harrison Group even ended up serving more than 3,000 guests within a three-day period.
“July 5 itself was the largest night we’ve ever had in our restaurant since I’ve been working there in 1997,” Harborwatch General Manager Jeb Betok said. “I spoke to Mark Mayers, the general manager for the Harrison Group Food and Restaurant Operations, and he said it was a great day across all Harrison group properties for the weekend as well.”
The numbers were so high for Harrison’s Harborwatch, that it matched crowds the restaurant would receive during White Marlin weekend.
“We did over 1,100 covers for dinner on Friday and we averaged about 900-1,000 on July 4 and 6 as well,” Betok said. “We don’t typically see those numbers until White Marlin weekend in the first week of August. It was an early crowd so we had families coming in all day long.
“It seemed to be there were a lot of families in and around the downtown area at all hours of the day, the Boardwalk in particular,” he continued. “Guests were really happy with how Ocean City accommodated them in regards with parking, traffic and everything OC has to offer.”
From local government’s standpoint, a great deal of effort was required to create the framework for the weekend’s events.
“It takes a lot of effort to pull off both of the [fireworks] events in town,” Waters said. “We had the Northside Park event and, of course, the downtown fireworks. Our public safety employees who were out directing traffic and firefighters responding to calls, our special events department ... it was a lot of work and our employees who leave their families on the holiday weekend to make sure everybody else gets to enjoy a vacation is worth noting.”