(June 13, 2014) Despite the usual litany of complaints following May’s Cruisin’ OC event, numbers from the Ocean City Police Department indicate that traffic enforcement actually declined this year to pre-2012 levels.
However, other enforcement issues continued to rise, with both police and event organizers concerned about the increasing numbers of hangers-on who congregate in town outside of the event.
“The event itself is not the problem, but often times it’s those that come to town to try to ‘run with the pack,’ if you will, who cause trouble,” said Cruisin’ OC organizer Bob Rothermel.
Critically, Rothermel’s vintage car show takes place entirely in the inlet parking lot and draws a relatively older crowd. However, the event weekend draws a number of other automotive enthusiasts who are not participating in the show, but gathering on streets and in parking lots where they often drink, harass other motorists, and leave copious amounts of trash.
According to OCPD data, officers issued a total of 721 traffic warnings and citations from Thursday, May 16 to Sunday, May 19. Over the same Thursday-Sunday span of Cruisin’ in 2013, 980 enforcement actions were made.
However, total arrests were up from 25 last year to 50 this year, including 12 DUIs versus six last year.
While the mix violators included both show participants and spectators, officers’ impression is that the problem is leaning strongly toward the latter.
“Generally speaking, we see the most problems from the ‘hangers-on’ and not from the car show participants themselves,” said OCPD Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay O’Neal.
Specifically, and for reasons unclear, the event has become a magnet for diesel pickup truck enthusiasts. Many of these trucks have abnormally high suspensions, as well as smokestack exhausts with valves that allow the driver to inject un-burnt fuel into the emission, creating a thick cloud of black smoke.
O’Neal said that harassing other drivers with one’s exhaust is a citable offense, and enforcement has taken place, although it is not a priority of the OCPD at this point.
A quick perusal of online car forums, however, indicates some Cruisin’ participants who are reluctant come back to the resort lest their low-riding antique cars be run over or have their interiors ruined by reckless, smoky diesels.
Rothermel said he is well aware of the problem, and is willing to work with the city and the community to reign in the hangers-on.
“Thirty years ago, for instance, the high school graduates in town were just getting crazy, and a cooperative effort happened between the town and the community to pull back and to start the Play it Safe program,” Rothermel said.
“The same thing has to happen here, in some of these parking lots where there’s congregation at night and trash left all over the place.”
There is interest, Rothermel said, in some kind of collaborative clean-up effort. But the parking lots where problem spectators congregate are out of his direct control, and require the help of those who own the property.
“The businesses here enjoy the revenue these people bring in, but in order to reap the benefit, you have to get out there and do something to help,” Rothermel said.