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Beach maze and great pumpkin race highlighted

(Oct. 25, 2013) O.C.toberfest topped last year’s numbers in its first weekend and continues this Saturday and Sunday with a giant beach maze and the Great Pumpkin Race, both free events.

Last year’s O.C.toberfest Beach Maze

The maze for all ages will be open tomorrow and Sunday, Oct. 26-27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the beach at North Division Street. The races begin tomorrow, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. as homemade pumpkin racecars vie for prizes in head-to-head heats at North Division Street.

O.C.toberfest first came to the city last year with the goal of bringing more family friendly Halloween activities to Ocean City, event co-producer Bob Rothermel said.

Hurricane Sandy made the second weekend a wash in 2012, but this year’s events have drawn a much larger crowd so far, he said.

“It was great,” Rothermel said of O.C.toberfest’s first 2013 weekend. “Even in the rain, we had several thousand people go through (the maze) each day.”

The family friendly beach maze is the size of a football field and features different themes, from pirates to zombie mermaids and creepy clowns, with a few live characters in the mix. Close to 6,000 people walked through it last weekend, topping about 4,500 trips total in 2012, Rothermel said.

“That was a wonderful turnout for the first weekend being open,” said event organizer Meredith Herbert of Special Event Productions Inc. “People from all ages — newborns to grandmas — went through the maze and we received a lot of positive reactions.”

Last weekend’s other O.C.toberfest event, the Howl-O-Ween Pet Parade, also drew a larger crowd than last year, as more than 70 dogs accompanied by groups of up to four people each paraded down the Boardwalk in costume on Saturday.

Close to 2,000 people watched as two- and four-legged participants dressed as Dr. Who, Popeye and Olive Oil, pirates and much more made their way across the boards, Herbert said. Local Liz Ortiz, of Berlin, and her Rottweiler Murdock won an award for their Little Red Riding Hood/Big Bad Wolf costumes.

With clear skies predicted this weekend, the Great Pumpkin Race should also draw a crowd on Saturday as participants send their racecars, made of a single pumpkin with wheels, side-by-side down a ramp. There will be prizes for race winners as well as for creativity and decorations in this free event.

Registration begins at 1 p.m. The rain date is  2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, in the same location.

“Everyone’s very appreciative. It gives families something to do,” Rothermel said. “We’re hoping for a great weekend.”

To learn more about O.C.toberfest and see a video of last year’s beach maze, visit www.specialeventpro.com/ octoberfest.php.

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