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The White Marlin Who Welcomes Visitors to Ocean City

As visitors enter Ocean City from the Route 50 Bridge or drive south along S. Philadelphia Avenue, one cannot but be impressed with the white marlin sculpture and water feature they see prominently displayed at the Entry Park.  Recent visitors to Ocean City may not realize this public art piece was only installed about twenty years ago.  So, here’s the story.

In 2000, a nonprofit organization, Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) was formed to revitalize downtown Ocean City.  One of its many goals was to install public art in the downtown district.  OCDC believes public art enhances the quality of life for visitors and residents.  Realizing that its initial piece of public art needed to be a statement piece and touch on the special aspects of Ocean City, the OCDC Public Art Committee recommended the creation of a white marlin sculpture.  As many know, Ocean City is noted as the “White Marlin Capital of the World.” 

The best location for this new public artwork was deemed to be the Entry Park which was at the base of the Route 50 Bridge.  This rather small park is very visible but was underutilized.  In fact, this property at one time contained Dale’s Esso gas station that closed and the building demolished in the 1980’s.  The land was purchased by the Town of Ocean City.   Its interim use was a small park with limited landscaping.  Luckily, that property was available for OCDC’s first public artwork.

OCDC then sought out several area artists and selected Paul Lockhart, a resident of Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Paul had a strong background in nature sculptures in metal and proposed this piece to be made of stainless-steel for its attractiveness as well as its durability.  He proposed a fourteen-foot tall sculpture for this location.  All agreed with this design, material, and size and Mr. Lockhart was commissioned for this project.

The next step was to design a water feature to surround this proposed signature sculpture.  For this project, OCDC contracted with Hardscapes, Inc., a local contractor which had ample experience in hardscape design and outdoor living spaces. 

In 2002, the OCDC then presented and received approval of this public art project from the Town of Ocean City.  Once this project was approved, OCDC began a rigorous fundraising campaign needed to pay for the sculpture and the water feature.  Knowing the challenges of such fundraising, OCDC recognized the project should be completed in two phases; the sculpture first, followed by the water feature.

Relying on private donations, OCDC was able to raise sufficient funds through its own membership and others having a great interest in supporting this new artwork.  As a charitable nonprofit organization, contributions for this project were tax deductible. There were several levels of giving.  All contributors who donated at least one thousand dollars were recognized on a plaque that still sets today, just east of the sculpture.  Donations were made by individuals, businesses and other community organizations.  Among the other community organizations which donated were: Ocean City Lions Club, Downtown Association, Boardwalk Development Association, Ocean City Parrothead Club, OC Beautification Committee, Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, and the Ocean City Hotel Motel Restaurant Association.  Others donated in memory of deceased loved ones.  In addition, there were many smaller donations received for this artwork.  The intent was to make this a community funded project, and for this reason it was successful. 

 

The sculpture was completed by Mr. Lockhart and installed in June 2002 at a ceremony attended by many.  The next step was to fundraise for the water feature which would complete this first public art project.  It took almost another year for the funds to be raised for the water feature; it being completed in 2003.  A novel fundraiser was the raffling of Paul Lockhart’s working model (called a maquette) which was a small replica of the white marlin which generated over thirteen thousand dollars in raffle sales.  A local resident won this raffle although tickets were sold throughout the Ocean City region. 

So, for the past twenty years this public artwork has graced the entrance to Ocean City and has become a landmark feature.  Often visitors can be seen getting their pictures taken in front of this majestic piece.  Many have even had their wedding pictures taken in front of this artwork.  It has become a great photo op location. OCDC is very proud to have facilitated this White Marlin sculpture and water feature as its first public artwork for all of Ocean City to view and enjoy.  And now you know its story!!

By Glenn.  Oceancity.com  September 25, 2023

Anne
Anne
Anne grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, and came across Ocean City for the first time over 30 years ago and shortly after it became her permanent home.  When time allows, Anne still loves to travel. She has been with OceanCity.com since September 2014.

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