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Weekend airs it out

(June 19, 2015) If the bumper-to-bumper traffic and shoulder-to-shoulder beach didn’t tip you off about how unusually full Ocean City was last weekend was, consider the following phrase: “world’s highest-grossing Hooters.”

Growth in visitorship leading up to the Ocean City Air Show meant that guests at the Boardwalk Hooters and Fifth Street ate more wings and things and drank more beverages than anyone else at any of the 460 Hooters in the United States and all the others on the planet, outside of Vegas.

“Of all the stores across the world, with the exception of the Hooters Casino in Las Vegas, the Boardwalk location was the number-one in sales last week,” said Matt Ortt, director of operations for both the Boardwalk and West Ocean City franchises.

“It actually wasn’t our biggest week ever, but it just happened to be bigger than all the other Hooters,” Ortt said. “I feel Ocean City this year has been a lot stronger, as far as the crowds and the business.”

This past weekend, it showed, with much of the resort filled to capacity.

“Hotel-wise, we did sell out,” said Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association. “All our member hotels were booked and we started to give out non-member numbers to people who called.”

At Ropewalk, the restaurant that just recently took over the old Fresco’s space between 82nd and 83rd Streets, there was a half-hour wait for dinner on Friday and Saturday.

This isn’t unusual anywhere in Ocean City, but considering that it was only Ropewalk’s third weekend open, its first weekend serving a full menu, and the fact that it has 600 seats to fill, it was quite a feat.

“We don’t even have our sign up yet,” said co-owner Chris Reda. “A half-hour wait is good. I’m sure other places had much longer waits, but for our first fully-operational weekend, I can’t complain.”

Not only has the air show become a valuable economic boost for Ocean City, it’s also become a key marker for the beginning-of-the-end of the “senior week” phenomenon, when the resort is packed with high school and college graduates whose demeanor often leaves much to be desired.

“There is definitely a group that can get out of control. You have to stay on your toes,” Ortt said. “The week leading up to the air show was just about all June-bugs at the Boardwalk location. But once the air show people came into town, the June-bugs kind of faded into the distance because it brought in so many more families.”

Although most businesses expect the influx of recent graduates to last through next weekend, the air show provides a welcome boost of less volatile customers.

“There definitely have been a lot of stories of destruction with the seniors this year,” Jones said. “I have some members that say they may not rent to anyone under a certain age again, because of the destruction of the rooms, and they only pull in a few thousand dollars from it anyway.”

Law enforcement activity was still high this past weekend, on par with the weekend before.

Officer-initiated service over the Thursday-through-Sunday of this past week, June 11 to 14, totaled 1,672 actions, compared to 1,740 over the same four-day span a week earlier.

Citizen calls actually climbed to 850 during the four-day air show practice and performance period, versus 688 the week prior. Arrests also grew by about a third, from 90 over June 4 to 7 to 120 this past weekend, including 32 drug arrests.

Although the city’s demoflush formula, which measures population based on wastewater, is imprecise, flows in the resort peaked last weekend around 28 percent higher than the flow peak from the previous weekend.



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