More than a quarter of a million people come to Ocean City in the summertime and thousands of them walk the 27 blocks of the Boardwalk each day. In “What Are You Doing Here?” we stop a few of them and find out what brought them to our corner of the Eastern Shore.
Prentice Rush was sitting on a Boardwalk bench on a windy Wednesday, idly playing with his iPhone, doing nothing really. And that’s the way he likes his vacation, which what brought him to Ocean City for the few days.
He’s the type of guy who works hard, but plays lightly. Right now, he’s enjoying the solitude of a not-so perfect beach day to collect his thoughts and to people watch. It’s a rare moment where he has some “me time.”
“I don’t get enough of it at home, since I work and work all the time,” Prentice said. He works with U.S. Foods, a large food distributor out of D.C. “When I’m on vacation, I just like to take it easy. My girls are up in the hotel right now, taking a nap.”
Prentice seems like Ocean City’s perfect customer: a father of two daughters, one 21 years old, and the other 13 years old. He’s making this a family vacation after coming up to the resort for years as a young adult himself.
“I come up with a good friend of mine and we go to Seacrets. That’s adult time,” Prentice said with a grin. “But this is a family vacation and things seem mellow here.”
As a father, he’s not too worried about the notorious crime headlines that have dogged Ocean City since May about shootings and stabbings. So far the craziest thing he’s seen is “college kids doing their thing.”
Moments before, three scruffy-looking boys skateboarded past him and the No Smoking signs with one lit cigarette between them. The smell of burnt marijuana wafted behind the trio.
“I don’t think there’s so much crime here. I’m more concerned about Myrtle Beach. There was a shooting there, and two people got shot. One was a cop,” Prentice said. “That’s a problem. It gets more crazy there.”
Prentice keeps coming back to Ocean City because he finds other resort towns too commercial, a little too into their tourist image.
“I used to go to Virginia Beach every year, and it’s way too crowded on the Boardwalk. I’d be elbowing people. It’s a little commerical here but nowhere to that level,” he said. “It’s more laid back.I like to be around people, but not that much.”
As Prentice seems like a picture-perfect tourist for Ocean City, Ocean City is the perfect place for a city man like Prentice. When he gets tired of being surrounded by strangers on street corners or stuffed in metro cars, he can escape to the beach town that still has the soul of bustling town: complete with jaywalking pedestrians and the occasional traffic jam on Coastal Highway. There’s even expensive fine dining, but here the speciality is Maryland blue crab and seafood.
“I don’t like going to Avon, North Carolina because it’s too laid back there. Virginia Beach is crowded. Here’s a nice mix between the two,” Prentice said. “Good place to people watch, walk on the Boardwalk, and maybe get some me time in.”