By Logan Dubel
The weather outside is delightful, and we have plenty of places to go, but it is never too early to start planning for the glorious holiday season. Ocean City’s very own Jolly Roger amusement parks are already gearing up for the holidays, with their annual Christmas in July event set for this weekend. While many revere the countless gifts they receive each year, not everyone is so fortunate. Highlighting the true generosity of the local community, the upcoming summer event aims to ensure that no child on the Eastern Shore is left without a present to open in December.
Started by Jolly Roger in 2017, Christmas in July is a joint venture between the Marine Corps Reserve, serving underprivileged children in Worcester, Wicomico, and lower Sussex counties. The event acts as a local agent for the well-known and trusted Toys for Tots organization.
On Saturday, July 24th, and Sunday, July 25th, dubbed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Jolly Roger will have donation stations open at both their Pier and 30th Street locations. The Marine Corps Reserves will be on-site and ready to collect new and unwrapped toys. Besides any items that resemble weapons, all donations are welcome. Community volunteers and local agencies will then store and sort the toys before distribution in December.
While the event may make it seem like the holiday season is already upon us, the incentive for donating will bring patrons right back into the summer groove. By donating just $20 to Toys for Tots, people will receive a 20% discount on any Jolly Roger park passes, valid for July 24th through 27th.
After donating, stop for a family photo with Santa Claus, who will be at the Pier on Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Santa will also make appearances at 30th Street on Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. Other special festivities include a ceremony on Sunday morning beginning at 9:30 a.m., featuring the U.S. Marine Corps, Color Guard, and Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. A flag-raising ceremony and playing of the national anthem will also be part of the ceremony. After, the Ocean City Jeep Club will arrive with their donations.
At the Boardwalk location, Jolly Roger will have characters Armondo and Marcello from its circus act as well as Dastardly Dave the Pirate and Lollipop the Clown. Special holiday-themed performances of Circus Smile will run at 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on both days at 30th Street. Click here for a full schedule of events.
“We want to serve children in need from the cradle all the way into their early teens,” said Bob Broderick, who organizes the local event with the 1st State Detachment Marine Corps League. “This is the perfect way to kick off our donation season, and all the tourists in Ocean City are just so generous. Toys for Tots is a recognized brand, and people feel compelled to contribute.”
The initiative has garnered attention and success in the past, receiving more than 6,000 toys for 3,700 kids in 2020, even amidst the pandemic. Although organizers canceled Christmas in July last summer, their work continued to bring smiles to children in need, as Toys for Tots has done every year since 1947. Christmas in July is proof that even in a packed and bustling resort town, there is always room for kindness and compassion.