I have lived oceanfront in north Ocean City for the past 25 years and my family and I have enjoyed the perks that ocean front living has offered us: watching waves break, seabirds swooping for fish and dolphins splashing in the distance.
We have also enjoyed sitting on our balcony breathing in the sea air and leaving our windows open, weather permitting. It’s nice to turn the AC off occasionally and flood the rooms with fresh air.
Everything changed for us last summer! We are now assaulted with the smell of smoke that is not coming from cigarettes or cigars.
All of our windows and sliding doors must be closed immediately and we can no longer spend relaxing evenings on the balcony.
The smoke is coming from the numerous bonfires that the town is permitting vacationers to light on the beach. There is not just one bonfire, but many, and night after night the smell of smoke is overwhelming, regardless of wind direction.
Beginning at sundown, we are prohibited from enjoying our home and must continually run our AC in order to prevent the rooms from smelling like a campground.
The town was eager and swift in enacting the no-smoking ordinance on the beach and Boardwalk, but they have apparently allowed an increase in the number of bonfire permits.
During our 42 years in Ocean City, no one in our family or any of our guests had ever complained about smoking on the beach and we always had the option to move a few yards away from the smoker.
We were more offended by inhaling a mouthful of spray tanning lotion or having a snack covered with it. Now we are all suffering the loss of our fresh air in the evening and can only escape the bonfire smoke by going indoors and closing all the windows.
Our mayor views bonfires as a good thing, but does he suffer the consequences night after night? It doesn’t seem fair to me.
To put it bluntly .... the smell is disgusting and it lingers in our furniture, bedding, carpeting, hair and clothing. We are forced indoors night after night.
Recently, an overnight guest went to bed early in the evening while our doors and windows were open. When nightfall came and the smell of smoke began to fill the air, we closed up, but not the windows in the guest’s room. He awoke around 10 p.m. to the smell of smoke and was fearful that there was a fire in the building.
We assured him that there was no fire; just the smell of smoke in his room and it was coming from the beach bonfires.
Neighbors who walk the beach daily have noticed stacks of burned wood and other trash; remnants of the previous night’s bonfires, along with numerous dogs on the beach whose owners can’t read or believe the city ordinance prohibiting dogs on the beach from May 1-Sept. 30 doesn’t apply to them.
The signs at each dune crossing clearly state that smoking is not allowed, but why are so few allowed to create so much smoke in the evening. Shouldn’t the same ordinance apply? Smoke is smoke, regardless of the source!