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Safe on the Boards: June in Ocean City

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

As tourists make their way down to Ocean City this summer, safety is key for the family-friendly resort. Each year, the town hosts about eight million people and becomes the second-largest city in Maryland, second only to Baltimore. With a massive influx of people comes many challenges, though Ocean City is well-equipped and prepared to serve tourists in a destination that has been bustling each summer for more than a century.

While Ocean City is a family favorite destination across the East Coast, the unfortunate events of June 2020 that wreaked havoc on the town caused some to question their vacation plans. Last June featured a few isolated yet dangerous scenes on the Boardwalk, along with a significant rise in calls to report disorderly behavior. At the time, many Ocean City leaders remarked that they faced the perfect storm of problems all at once. From the initial reopening of businesses following the Covid-19 lockdown to Senior Week, unruly visitors rocked the town at one of the worst times.

Although the television cameras that arrived from across the region captured the undeniable problems the town faced, they did not stick around to cover the work and change that ensued. Local leaders including Mayor Rick Meehan and the Ocean City Council dedicated several meetings to addressing the Boardwalk incidents. Following a week of unruliness last year, Meehan told fellow officials, “We shouldn’t be giving lip service, people don’t want it. They want solutions.”

True to their word, the Town of Ocean City, in coordination with the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD), took a more active approach on the Boardwalk throughout the rest of the summer, and many of the problems receded. Still, June is an unpredictable time, with challenges that can arise in the blink of an eye.

This summer, families planning to arrive in June must know that they are safe and can let loose without any fears. After all, the start of the summer is one of the most exciting times to be in Ocean City.

The town has dedicated the past year to understanding what went wrong and has taken many steps to ensure that the events of 2020 do not repeat themselves. Jessica Waters, Communications and Marketing Director for Ocean City, recognizes the problems associated with the upcoming month.

“June does present us with some challenges. Not only does our population increase dramatically, but historically we see a much younger group of visitors in June, which is not the traditional family visitor we have through the remainder of the summer. You have to remember, Ocean City becomes the second-largest city in the State of Maryland, so during the summer, particularly in June, we experience a few isolated incidents,” Waters explained. “Fortunately, our police department will be highly visible on the Boardwalk and throughout the city, strictly enforcing all laws and ordinances.”

Visitors should notice an increase in police presence on the Boardwalk throughout the summer, as the OCPD has worked diligently to recruit and hire new officers throughout the offseason. A handful of new officers joined the force in December and will be an integral part of the response this summer. Officers from allied agencies such as the Worcester County Sherriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police will be on deck along with plainclothes officers. The town adds that it will reallocate police forces and modify patrol times to increase the presence of law enforcement.

Ashley Miller, Deputy Communications Manager for the Ocean City Police Department, emphasizes that the town is prepared. “Ocean City is an excellent destination for families, and it’s safe to visit Ocean City and the Boardwalk. During the summer, particularly in June, Ocean City has historically experienced a few isolated incidents with young adults on the Boardwalk and downtown area, typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.,” Miller said. “However, the town is very safe, and the Ocean City Police Department stays vigilant in protecting the community.”

If you are having second thoughts about a trip to Ocean City in June, this summer could actually be the safest and most secure year yet. With local leaders and law enforcement more prepared than ever to respond, families hoping to enjoy strolls down the Boardwalk can do so worry-free. Of course, the later hours of the night could be less desirable due to noise, but the area is surely a family-friendly environment from sunrise to sunset.  

photo by www.oshkosh365.org

Outgoing high school seniors fresh off their graduation will hit the sand from June 5 through 12 but will wrap up their festivities prior to the Ocean City Air Show, which will run on June 19 and 20. The Air Show is the town’s largest event of the early summer and will undoubtedly attract thousands of families. Nonetheless, people will not want to pass up time at the beach next month.

“I may be biased, but Ocean City is a great place to travel all year long. June, specifically, brings warmer temperatures, the end of the school season, and the official start of summer – which are three reasons to visit,” added Jessica Waters. “Not only does Ocean City offer an array of summer camps in June for the kids in the family, but it also starts our summer event series, which are free. Finally, the icing on the cake is the air show, which is always a fun and patriotic event.”

Even though June may not be the quietest time at the beach, it certainly is a place for exciting adventures and memories, and more importantly, well-deserved rest and relaxation.

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