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Ocean City

The perfect Fourth of July

I’m new at the whole Fourth-of-July-in-Ocean-City thing. My parents might have taken me here for the holidays as a child, but that was so long ago that I don’t remember much, because they ultimately gave up braving the bumper-to-bumper traffic and crowded boardwalk to stay home and watch the fireworks in Annapolis. As of this year, I’m officially an OC resident and had no choice but to face the traffic and crowds, but I’m happy to report that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m surprised to report that I actually had a pretty great time.

A patriotic morning margarita

An OC Independence Day novice and a worrier, I was stressed that I would end up spending the gray, overcast holiday inside with nothing interesting to report. So I looked at Tony’s 7 steps to a perfect Fourth of July, tried to follow it to a T, and ended up knocking at least a few things off my list.

I had planned to catch the sunrise and snap a few stereotypical (but beautiful) beach sunrise pictures, and ended up sleeping in instead (I did wake up when my alarm went off but then I checked the weather, saw the gray cloud symbol and used that as an excuse to go back to bed).

BUT I did follow step two: overdo it on breakfast, in that my first meal of the day was a margarita at Tequila Mockingbird. I know, who goes to a Mexican restaurant on the holiday of American independence? Sometimes you just crave a Godfather, their incredible amaretto-flavored margarita, and have to treat yourself.

A Mockingbird and a Godfather margarita. The salt on the rim was more pink and purple but if you squint your eyes, it almost looks red and blue.

Burgers and alternative rock

Our original plan had been to spend the day at Northside Park, so for lunch we ate at the nearby Abbey Burger and enjoyed our burgers while listening to the music provided by 93.5 The Beach, who had set up a truck outside of the restaurant. (I think this most closely follows step six: seek shelter and sustenance, although we were really seeking shelter by the time we went to the boardwalk soon afterward.)

Radio truck
Radio DJs provide Fourth of July burger-eating ambience.

Hiding out

We still had a few hours to pass before the music and fireworks started, so we decided that we’d fully explore the day’s festivities and check out what was happening by the beach and boardwalk. Which might have been for the best, because later there would be some drama near Northside Park at 145th street, where OCPD was called to shut down a fireworks display that wasn’t legally sanctioned.

I was pleasantly surprised that we had no problem getting from North Ocean City to where we ended up parking at 3rd Street. Traffic was minimal. But then we got to the boardwalk and, as expected, there were hoards of people which only grew more and more condensed as the night wore on. Walking from 3rd Street to the Inlet was like a game of Frogger, darting through families and strollers and bikes and trams, so we took shelter at Harbor Inn for the next few hours and enjoyed a few beers while the sun went down.

(Before I go on, let me confess to the worst thing I’ve done on a crowded boardwalk. We hadn’t reached the bar yet and the lines for the bathrooms and Porta Potties were spectacularly long, so I did that thing where you walk into a particularly crowded restaurant, march right past the hostess stand and pretend you’re looking for someone you’re meeting when you’re really looking for the bathroom. I want to apologize here. I know their staff would hate me if they ever knew the truth. But it was too cold to just ‘go’ in the ocean.)

Decorated bar
The bar at Harbor Inn, decked out in red, white and blue stars for the Fourth.

The perfect ending

Once it was dark out, we headed back into the night to find a spot to watch the fireworks. Around Fourth or Fifth Street, we found a section of beach that wasn’t totally clustered, so we took out our cameras, laid back in the sand and waited for the show to start. Turns out, playing Frogger at the boardwalk and beach had been well worth it. The spotlights that illuminate the sky for 100 Nights of Lights turned blue and red, and the fireworks themselves were spectacular. I love the especially big, booming ones that make you feel like you have 3D glasses on, as if they’re reaching out to touch you.

So, to sum the day up, my 7 steps to a perfect Ocean City Fourth of July would be as follows:

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Drink a really good, really flavorful margarita.
  3. Listen to a radio DJ while eating a burger.
  4. Plan on spending your day one place, and then change your mind at the last minute.
  5. Illegal bathroom usage.
  6. Drink beer.
  7. I don’t necessarily recommend you follow any of my steps, but if you don’t at least make it this one: watch the fireworks. You’ve probably seen tens or hundreds of fireworks shows in your lifetime, but to me, they’re always spectacular and I can’t imagine ever getting bored of this holiday tradition.
Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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