Let’s put local politics and government aside for a week and look at something that generates no controversy, produces no disputes about its effectiveness and has no agenda other than to do the job it set out to do.
Ocean City’s “Play It Safe” project, which is entering its 24th year, is that something.
It was back in the late 1980s, when many people in the resort were just about fed up with the often unruly newly graduated high schoolers who descended on the town in early June, that the idea was born to give them a program that would keep them out of trouble and give them something fun to do.
The Worcester County Health Department and the Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee, with the aid of local government, launched “Play It Safe,” which might have seemed to some like a singularly uncool alternative to running around with wild abandon.
The doubters, however, were not just proven wrong, but overwhelmingly wrong. From an inauspicious beginning, with just three events and 350 participants, Play It Safe has gone on to entertain 149,000 teens, with more than 8,600 participating in last year’s 50-plus events.
The program’s expansion, of course, mirrors the expanding support of its efforts by area business operators and the community itself. It also should be said that Play It Safe’s leadership has done remarkable job over the years.
Because of that, it would be a shame if Play It Safe suddenly found itself short on money in the coming year because of government’s fiscal issues and this is why its next edition might require additional help from businesses and residents.
With one of its major fundraisers approaching and other solicitations sure to follow, it would be in everyone’s best interest to do what they can to help. No one is saying that Play It Safe is facing an urgent situation or that it is somehow in jeopardy, because it isn’t.
All that’s being said here is that this is a worthwhile endeavor that has done more than most people would have imagined and that it is definitely worth keeping that way by patching whatever financial potholes it might encounter in the new year.