More people will walk through the doors of the Atlantic City Convention this weekend than any other weekend for the rest of the year.
The Progressive Atlantic City Boat Show 2018 is expected to draw 33,000 people over five days from Wednesday through Sunday.
They will be joined by about 34,000 students, parents, relatives and friends attending the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association Wrestling Championship at Boardwalk Hall, which starts Friday and ends Sunday.
During the off season, it is absolutely helpful that Atlantic City brings in conventions to compensate for the visitors who don’t come to the resort in winter, said Dave Bowen, manager at the Atlantic City fixture Tony’s Baltimore Grill.
Groups of people stop by Tony’s Baltimore Grill from the boat show to eat, drink or both, said Bowen, who has been manager for at least 25 years of the restaurant’s 91 years in existence.
“It’s always good when we have something go on in the city. Even if it is only a few thousand people, it’s always good to get the people here. It’s always nice. This weekend, they have wrestling going on. There is always something usually going on,” Bowen said.
The Tun Tavern Restaurant and Brewery is physically attached to the new Atlantic City Convention Center and the Sheraton Hotel by a walkway, so the convention business the resort attracts is extremely important, said Diane Tharp, the tavern’s sales and marketing manager.
“That’s our business right there. ... We are the closest restaurant,” said Tharp, who added the restaurant was already busy at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the first day of boat show.
When conventions are in town, Tun Tavern opens a half-hour early at 11 a.m. and stays open until midnight during the week, instead of closing at 11:30 p.m.
“During the boat show, we may stay open after midnight (this weekend),” Tharp said.
The boat show offers new things to see this year.
One is the Touch-a-Boat Tour, which features working vessels from the U.S. Coast Guard, Sea Tow and a variety of recreational boats throughout the show floor. Children can climb aboard, talk to captains, snap a picture at the helm and learn the ropes of life on the high seas.
There is a new WaterCar, a luxury amphibious vehicle that moves on land and on water. It takes than less 15 seconds to transition from driving on land to cruising on the water.
A “Queen of the Show” boat called the Regulator 41 will be on display. It is a 47-foot offshore fishing machine with every luxury needed to entertain friends and family with ease.
There is a new Progressive Boat Club. In this interactive space, attendees can boost their nautical know-how with mariners from the Annapolis School of Seamanship teaching hands-on boating courses for all levels of experience.
There is new indoor paddle pool. Visitors can dive into paddle sports fun at the new 20-by-30-foot indoor paddle pool, with trials and demos of stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and more, thanks to Finatics Marine in Ocean City.
The Classic and Race Boat Display features a restored 1951 wooden Chris-Craft Holiday and 1968 Hydroplane race boat — one of just three such boats in existence, powered by a L-88 427 cubic inch engine, plus more.
The Progressive Insurance Atlantic City Boat Show takes place 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at the Atlantic City Convention Center, 1 Convention Blvd.
Tickets are $16 for adults, and children age 12 and younger enter for free. Advance tickets can be bought online at acboatshow.com
For more information, visit acboatshow.com