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Resort to continue and expand summer laser, fireworks show

(Feb. 1, 2013) The Ocean City Council unanimously approved a request by the town’s Tourism Advisory Board to allocate $75,000 from the current fiscal year 2013 – and an expected $210,000 from the upcoming FY14 – to stage beach laser and fireworks shows next summer, similar to what was done last summer as part of the “Summer of Thanks” promotion.

“It was a tremendous experience for our visitors last year,” said city Tourism Director Donna Abbott.

TAB, a committee of local business owners and tourism industry representatives, is authorized to allocate up to $300,000 per year of city funds towards promotion and tourism development initiatives, with the approval of council.

At its January session, the board reviewed and recommended a proposal by T.E.A.M. productions to put on summer laser shows, as well as fireworks.

T.E.A.M. staged similar shows last year using TAB funding. The innovative programs involved laser projectors, strategically placed on the beach and Boardwalk, to create a kaleidoscope effect of light over the ocean and the city’s downtown. A giant, inflatable white ball served as a reflector for video projections, set to music that made the Boardwalk seem as if it was a two-mile-long Kraftwerk show.

“That was the anchor for last year, it was three shows a night,” said local promoter Bob Rothermel, who heads up T.E.A.M. along with colleague Jack Hennen.

The difference this year, however, is that each showing – 9:30, 10, and 10:30 p.m. – will feature a slightly different program, so that lingering visitors will not see the same thing three times. The laser shows will run every Sunday from Labor Day through Memorial Day.

Fireworks will again be staged at 10 p.m. every Monday during the same time period. Additionally this year, fireworks will also be done on Tuesdays as well, starting after July 4 and running through the end of August. During the same time span, Sunday fireworks will be done at Northside Park, as a finale for the Sundaes in the Park program.

“It’s a fun, family-friendly event that I think fireworks can bring a lot more to. It has a lot of room to grow,” said TAB Vice Chairman John Gehrig.

T.E.A.M. also organized last year’s giant flag unfurling. To keep things fresh, Rothermel said that this year’s Memorial Day program would feature a patriotic light show instead.

Rothermel and Hennen will also be organizing events for OCtoberfest, which runs the third and fourth weekends in October. Like last year, the event will feature a beach maze, pet costume parade, and pumpkin races, in which contestants build gravity-powered race cars using pumpkins for chassis.

“It was a very strong event, a good beginning that could have some legs – no pun intended – for next year,” Rothermel said.

Although additional programming will be added, the ability to reuse some material from last year means that the whole schedule can be done at the same cost, Rothermel said.

Several elected officials said they had heard from downtown businesses that the draw of T.E.A.M.’s shows had produced a significant boost.

“They wanted to let you know that, during those events, their business was up notably,” said Councilman Doug Cymek.

Rothermel estimated that the shows drew roughly 10,000 spectators per night.


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