Crowds gather for the unsanctioned pop-up car rally, H2Oi, on Saturday, Sept. 26 on 94th Street. 

(Sept. 26, 2020) Three days into the pop-up rally colloquially known as “H2Oi,” Ocean City police have already given a record number of citations, towed dozens of vehicles and lived up to its promise that troublemakers would be arrested without hesitation. 

Since Tuesday, the city has been under Special Event Zone laws, which bring the speed limit down to 30 miles per hour. An addition to the legislation earlier this year prohibits exhibition driving and increases the maximum fines and imprisonable actions. 

82nd street

The city has taken advantage of the Special Event Zone, which increases the fines and imprisonable actions for pop-up car rally participants. A car is towed on 82nd Street on Saturday, Sept. 26. 

The event participants are known to purposely bring vehicular chaos to Ocean City. 

According to city Communications Manager Jessica Waters, police towed 75 vehicles on Thursday alone compared to last year’s 12. 

Then on Friday, police towed another 115 vehicles compared to just 16 last year. 

City officials recently hiked up towing fines to $600, meaning the modified car enthusiasts have or will shell out approximately $114,000 for just two day’s worth of reckless shenanigans. 

That figure does not include vehicles that will have to be towed off the impound lot — a new requirement this year for vehicles deemed unsafe or not street legal. 

Arrests also jumped significantly this year, from seven last year to 31 on Thursday. 

On Friday, arrests almost doubled from last years 29 to 58 this year. 

Police Chief Ross Buzzuro warned residents that traffic patterns would be reconfigured to discourage pop-up rally participants. 

Travelers got a taste of this last night, when south bound traffic on the Route 90 Bridge was rewired, forcing all vehicles to travel west into Route 113 for two hours that evening. 

A video on social media also shows some signs of violence, with an participant tackling an officer to the ground yesterday. 

Events have escalated to the point where several restaurants have announced early closures on Facebook. 

“Due to the blatant level of disrespect to our town and for the safety of our employees, Shotti’s Point will be closing early today,” the 35th Street restaurant said. 

Other businesses that have announced early closures include Old Pro Golf, Dry Dock 28 on 28th Street and Ripieno’s Italian Restaurant on 33rd Street. 

“Our law enforcement officers are doing an extraordinary job,” Waters said. “The new legislation has allowed our officers to increase fines and make arrests when necessary in the special event zone.”

Special Event Zone regulations will remain in effect until midnight Sunday.  

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