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Ocean City

Bonfires of the Eastern Shore

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

Evening bonfire

While Bonfires of the Eastern Shore  may sound like a sequel to Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague  or Thomas Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities (spoiler alert: it is not), with proper permits and by following some simple rules, you could host a bonfire in Ocean City or Assateague.

Wild ponies crash a beach bonfire on Assateague Island. Perspective courtesy of chardonnay.

Bonfires have surged in popularity in Ocean City in particular, partially thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they brought a surplus revenue to the town of $50,000.

How do the two locations compare in terms of regulations and price? Let’s find out!

Bonfires of the Eastern Shore: Side-by-Side Comparison

Whether you want to have a bonfire in Ocean City or Assateague, certain rules and guidelines apply. Let’s look at a side-by-side comparison of some of the frequently discussed topics about these bonfires.

 Ocean CityAssateague
Total Cost$75
No permit cost; $20 park entry fee
Pets Yes (October 1-April 30)Yes (year-round)
Wood Untreated/Natural (you must bring; in-state purchase only recommended)You must bring (purchased in-state only)
LocationOn beachNorth Beach
Camping NoYes

In addition to all of this helpful information, here are a few useful tips for having your bonfire, courtesy of The Baltimore Sun in a previous article written about bonfires.

Greg Yarbro, CUA Coordinator of Assateague also weighed in, saying “if your group is no more than 25 people you would not need a special use permit and there would be no fees. Beach bonfires are permitted for groups of 25 people or less on the beach between the high and low tide lines (not on the high beach).

Fires must be completely extinguished with water and all debris removed from the beach.  Your group would also need to adhere to whatever Covid-19 group size restrictions that state and/or local authorities have in place at the time of the event.”


Kindle Up!

Don’t forget to bring some wood for your first (or umpteenth!) bonfire. The author of the article, Rachel Pacella, says that 10 logs should be sufficient.

flies on the boardwalk

Beware the Critters

Just because we’re nearing the start of winter, doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down against bugs. Please make sure you have plenty of bug spray. In Assateague, for example, mosquitoes can still be pesky to bonfire participants and general parkgoers alike.

On a better note, on Assateague and Ocean City’s bonfire-designated beach areas, you might be able to espy sand crabs scurrying and crawling along the beach.

Pick Your Spot

In both Ocean City and Assateague, there are designated locations for where you can have your bonfire. In both locations, you want to make sure you only have bonfires in designated areas. Please follow all regulations if you venture out to have a bonfire in either location. When building and tending to your fire, please make sure you abide by all regulations so that you can have your bonfire safely.

Have Fun

What bonfire activities do you enjoy-roasting marshmallows? Making S’mores? Telling ghost stories? Tell us about your favorite bonfire activities in the comments! The Ocean City or Assateague bonfire is your oyster-enjoy it if you make one!

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