Among many of those who don't live there, Egg Harbor City has an undeserved reputation for not being much fun, Chamber of Commerce Secretary Lynnie Couch says.

The city has attempted to combat this opinion in recent years through improvements to its commercial strip on Philadelphia Avenue and the roster of activities it offers residents. Now, city leaders are angling to make an improved Hometown Celebration the start of a summer of fun in Egg Harbor City.

"This is all part of our vision for Egg Harbor City, that it's going to be turned into a place where there are many activities," Couch said.

The Hometown Celebration will take place on the 100 and 200 blocks of Philadelphia Avenue from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 6, and will feature youth activities and more than 65 food and craft vendors. The event had been held at Lincoln Park and then Egg Harbor Lake, but was moved downtown this year to help promote the city's growing crop of locally owned businesses.

This year, the Hometown Celebration will begin with the inaugural Hometown 5K Race and 1-Mile walk. Registration starts at 7 a.m. on the 500 block of Philadelphia Avenue. Registration is $20 in advance and $25 on race day and includes a


The run/walk is modeled after last year's successful Miracle Mile, hosted by then-Miss New Jersey Lindsey Petrosh as a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network.

Initially, Couch - who in addition to organizing the run/walk helped put together the Hometown Celebration with Councilwoman Hazel Mueller - planned to make the event a standalone entity, but quickly realized it would work better in tandem with the city's celebration.

The mother of a triathlete who has seen firsthand how such events can draw a crowd, Couch said it was natural to connect the two.

"We always go to his events and take my grandchildren, and they really enjoy what's going on," Couch said. "It just seemed like the ideal time."

Funds raised from the event will be used to pay for a few city improvement projects such as additional holiday lights and welcome signs on the city's east and west boundaries.

In addition to its ever-growing roster of vendors, the Hometown Celebration will include a bike parade on the former Rittenberg School campus, a cupcake-eating contest outside "Cupcake Wars" winners Simply Sweet Cupcakes, and a series of musical acts and other shows starting at 1 p.m.

Mueller, who has run the event for the past five years, said she hopes the celebration will prove a perennial favorite in the region.

"It's what you do in the summertime on a Saturday," Mueller said. "Other towns have street fairs, this will be ours, and hopefully it will be successful and we'll make it bigger every year."

City businesses and business owners have been big supporters of the celebration, and many, like Ocean City Home Bank, Century 21 Realty and Napa Value Auto Parts.

Things are shaping up for the revamped Hometown Celebration and run/walk combo to be a strong showcase of what Egg Harbor City has to offer, and one Couch says she hopes will be a success for years to come.

"There's a lot of people in this town that are trying very hard to bring Egg Harbor City back," Couch said. "I think this could go a long way."

Contact Braden Campbell:


If you go

What: Egg Harbor City Hometown Celebration and 5K race

When: July 6. Race: 7 a.m. registration. Celebration: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Where: Race: 500 block of Philadelphia Avenue. Celebration: 100-200 blocks.

How much: Race: $20 in advance, $25 on race day. Celebration: free.

More info: See or call 609-593-6193.