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More than 8,700 grads take advantage of Play It Safe prog.

(June 28, 2013) Despite nine events canceled because of rain, the 2013 Play It Safe program saw more than 8,700 teens take part in the early June campaign to provide high school graduates with organized, alcohol- and drug-free activities in Ocean City.

“We had more students this year than last year with fewer events. We had to cancel quite a few because of bad weather,” said Donna Greenwood, chairwoman of the Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee and Play It Safe co-organizer. “It’s probably three times the number of events we’ve had to cancel in the past.”

Play It Safe 2013 officially began May 28, with breakfast at Hall’s Restaurant on 60th Street. The first event of the season was scheduled to get under way two days later at Jolly Roger Splash Mountain Water Park on 30th Street. Activities ran through June 14.

This year, 8,788 graduates participated in Play It Safe events, an increase from 2012 when 8,620 teens took part in the free activities, May 31 to June 19.

“The kids that came to us were well behaved, they had a good time and they were very appreciative,” Greenwood said. “We heard a lot of ‘Thank you for doing this for us’ from [the graduates]. Overall, it was an excellent year.”

The 24th annual program featured approximately 40 events, including kayaking, paintball, paddle boarding, basketball, tennis, rock climbing, a pizza-eating contest, karaoke, moonlight bowling, laser tag, beach volleyball, indoor and outdoor miniature golf and T-shirt tie-dying.

Graduates received T-shirts, food, drinks, giveaways and prizes at competitive events. Prizes were donated by local businesses.

During the different events, participants could also pick up a wristband that allowed them to ride the resort bus free.

“They were happy to have the bus passes,” Greenwood said. “The town has been so supportive to have events on city property … but the biggest thing of all is letting the kids ride the bus.”

This year, Play It Safe worked with the State Highway Administration to get the word out about pedestrian safety through its “Walk Smart” campaign. The administration sponsored the wristbands for the buses and provided prizes and T-shirts to distribute to teens.

The Worcester County Health Department and Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee coordinated the 2013 program with support from the Town of Ocean City and local businesses and organizations.

The Play It Safe program is an effort to prevent the abuse of alcohol and other drugs by high school-aged visitors to the resort. It is designed to encourage recent high school graduates to make informed, healthy choices while having responsible fun without the use of drugs and alcohol.

When the program debuted 24 years ago, it offered just three events and attracted about 350 participants. Since its inception, approximately 160,000 teenagers have signed up for Play It Safe’s free activities.

“This has been a longtime tradition in Ocean City for kids to come here after graduation,” Greenwood said.

For more information about Play It Safe, visit www.playitsafeoceancity. com.

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