The Ocean City Experience: St. Patrick’s Day

The Ocean City Experience: St. Patrick’s Day

Ocean City’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities may be over, but only until next year — and if there’s one thing you can count on in OC, it’s the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival that have marked the start of the town’s “on”-season since 1980. 

Coming down to town for the weekend parade has been a tradition in my family for over two decades. Now that I live here, the weekend itinerary is a little different, but much of it remains the same: We meet up at whatever hotel they’re staying at (my parents have a few favorites but they’re not loyal to one particular hotel, which means I’m starting to become a connoisseur of hotel hot tubs). We go out for breakfast somewhere we can see the parade out the window, just in case we’re running a little late (that happens often). We find a nice viewing spot along the street (we don’t really need to stake out a spot now that my sisters and I aren’t little kids anymore, but having a front-row view is pertinent if you’re a little kid looking to fill a bag up with chocolate and beads). Then we hit the hotel pool before going out for a few drinks. 

If you’ve been hitting the various Ocean City parades and festivals for decades the way my family has, you’re probably an old pro at navigating the streets, the restaurants and the bars on such busy weekends. There’s a good chance that your weekend/parade-day itinerary is as tried and true as ours is.

But regardless, because we had such a great day on Saturday, aka St. Patrick’s Day, I’d just like to share a few steps that we’ve taken year after year to ensure our St. Pat’s weekend is a success. See below for pictures from the Delmarva Irish-American Club’s 39th St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and for the 2018 list of winners. 

Step 1: Stay somewhere fun. 

Quality Inn parrot
When I was little, we usually stayed at either my parents’ friends condo, or the Quality Inn on 54th street. This was before they started experimenting with hotels (the Clarion and the Park Place are now two of their favorites), so when they said they’d be staying at the Quality Inn this weekend for the first time in about 10 years, my inner child rejoiced. Because the Quality Inn has birds. Lots of birds. And even a bearded dragon (see below). These animals just hang out in their atrium, which also features a pool and hot tubs and a bar. I was sad to see that the old second-floor playroom had been turned into a business center, but the latter would be more useful to me nowadays, anyway. My sister and I had good times up there. 
Quality Inn bearded dragon
If you’re coming to town and expecting to have fun, you’ll want to stay in a place where they know just how to have fun. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the Quality Inn on 54th street, although this is a good option if you like bearded dragons. Get the most bang for your buck by booking at a hotel that throws an in-house party for the holiday. Here we enjoyed food, drinks at the bar right across from the room’s front door and a DJ spinning hits from the ’70s to today. Bonus points if you can find a fun place like this and snag a balcony overlooking the parade route.

Step 2: Start the morning off right. 

Sea Bay Cafe
We ate breakfast Saturday morning at the Sea Bay Cafe on 60th street right next to the 90 bridge, another throwback from my childhood. We really started feeling festive when we walked into the restaurant and saw a sea of green. My mom seemed to remember being able to look out the window here and see the various floats and marchers getting ready for the parade in the lot next to the restaurant. While this wasn’t necessarily the case…
St. Patrick's Day Parade horse
…We did see a few horses and their carriages waiting for the walk. This one happened to be a unicorn. 

Step 3: Stake out your spot. 

St. Patrick's Day Parade
We don’t do this so much anymore now that my family is mostly grown adults and teens. Most of us would rather sleep in and get breakfast, then just wander along the parade route and stop on whatever street seems nice enough. However, if you’re looking to sit down through the parade, you’ll want to stake out your spot early. And if you’ve got a kid with a competitive spirit looking to collect as much candy as possible… they’ll probably manage to sneak to the front row anyway.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
You’re technically supposed to stand back on the sidewalk and behind the various barriers that are set out to keep viewers out of harm’s way, but the block we were on was totally lawless. This is a holiday where most people take the “rules” as mere suggestions.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
My sister and her friend left the parade after about an hour to explore the nearby Candy Kitchen (as almost-high schoolers, they were too proud to take candy off the street).

Step 4: Enjoy the parade.

St. Patrick's Day Parade
Hopefully you came dressed in layers, because now you’re in for almost two hours of parade watching. 
St. Patrick's Day Parade bagpipes
Two hours of watching the bagpipers, local businesses and politicians on parade floats, school marching bands and local celebrities making their way down Coastal Highway.
St. Patrick's Day Parade Elvis
Boardwalk Elvis was one of those local celebrities this year. If you’re at all familiar with Ocean City and its many characters, the parade is an especially fun time to people-watch. 
St. Patrick's Day Parade Dolles
And collect samples of some of the best local flavors, like taffy from Dolle’s. (It’s best to wear a hat to parades like these, as candy-throwers have no inhibitions about hurling the hard stuff directly into the crowds.)
St. Patrick's Day Parade
All in all, another chilly-but-super-fun St. Patrick’s Day.

2018 winners

Best Marching Unit: Sussex Central High School Marching Band
Honorable Mention: New York City Fire Department Retired Lt. Joseph DiMartino

Best Commercial Float: Barn 34
Honorable Mention: Delaware Elevator

Best Non-Commercial Float: The Frat Boys
Honorable Mention: Relay for Life of Northern Worcester County

Best Motorized Unit: Jolly Roger Parks
Honorable Mention: Watermen and Waterwomen

Best Adult Group: Barefoot Beach Bride
Honorable Mention: Gerald and Esther Lupton

Best Youth Group: Float of Hope
Honorable Mention: K-Coast Surf Shop

Special Committee Award: Ocean98/Seacrets/Seacrets Distilling Company
Judges’ Choice Award: Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums

Best Overall: Believe in Tomorrow National Children’s Foundation

 

1 Comment on this Post

  1. The Dirt Road Soldiers had a blast taking part in this years Saint Patrick’s day parade. And we look forward to being in it again. For more info on how you can help veteran’s in your area visit our website http://www.DirtRoadSoldiers.com and “Like Us” on Facebook at Dirt Road Soldiers. See you next year!!!!

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