OCEAN CITY – Memorial Day weekend in this coastal town combines the dark and the ridiculous.
On Monday, local veterans and community members are due to gather at 11 a.m. to remember service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Friday noon was time for nonsense. For the 19th year, the businessmen of Ocean City deliberately walked through water, led by Suzanne Muldowney, known for her costumed portrayals of several characters at area events.
Some, like dive organizer and annual attendee John Walton, wear suits and ties, often dressed much more formally than beach business usually demands. Others dress up as pirates, mermaids or hermit crabs.
This year, a contingent from the Aquatic and Fitness Center came in jellyfish form, complete with paper tentacles dangling from umbrellas.
The event takes place rain or shine. When that didn’t happen in 2020 because the beaches were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walton still went in on his own. The event took place in heavy rain and amid beach replenishment plans, so the gray haze that covered the beaches near Music Pier at midday Friday was no big deal.
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Hundreds of spectators lined the rail and beach to watch the plunge, which followed the official ocean unlock, in which city officials turn an oversized wrench in the sand.
Things started with Miss New Jersey volunteer Natalie Ragazzo singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” followed by comments from Mayor Jay Gillian. Members of the city council were also gathered on the beach.
“It’s been a long, long, cold winter, but let me tell you, the sun will come out and Ocean City will thrive as usual,” Gillian said. “Let’s have a pleasant, safe and calm summer. So enjoy. Happy new year 2022.
Beginning this weekend, a daily flag-raising ceremony on the promenade at Music Pier was held each morning with the national anthem and the playing of “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood.
Saturday morning brings the Memorial Beach Challenge, a two-mile obstacle course that covers much of the beach between Fifth and 15th Streets. Proceeds from the event benefit Project 31 Heroes, an organization that specializes in creating programs, financial support systems, and opportunities for service members, veterans, and their families.
The race starts at 8:00 a.m. near the Music Pier. It also includes a Kids Fun Run and Memorial Paddle Out. See www.memorialbeachchallenge.com for more information.
The National Moment of Remembrance is also scheduled for Monday. Established by Congress, the event asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, to pause for a minute in an act of national unity. Greg Murphy of Buglers Across America will be tapping from the Music Pier to commemorate this moment.
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