Ocean City's First Night event has been grown bigger and better every year since its start said Ocean City's Public Relations Director and Event Chairman Mark Soifer, who has been organizing the event for all of its 21 years.

"The first First Night event attracted 1,000 people, and the police on the boardwalk couldn't believe it," said Soifer. "Last year's event brought in 10,000 people."

In Soifer's opinion, Ocean City's First Night celebration is "the best New Year's Eve entertainment available in all of South Jersey."

"You get eight hours of professional entertainment for all ages, including Mummers String Band, Trout Fishing In America, the Michael Hartman shows (Hartman is the director of the Ocean City Theatre Company), the Grease Band and much more all for $15, plus free admission to all the rides, miniature golfing and so much more."

This year's First Night event will be much like the previous years, starting at 4 p.m. and offering entertainment and activities for young and old all through the night. It will end with a midnight firework display filling the Ocean City sky, he said.

A schedule of all entertainment and activities is listed on the First Night website,

firstnightocnj.com. The website also gives a brief description of all of the events and performers. New to this year, attendees will be given the opportunity to visit Ocean City's High School's new Astronomy Observatory and look out at the stars.

Soifer, who will visit the observatory for the first time during First Night event with his grandchildren, said the observatory has been generating a lot of buzz, and he's heard from other's who've already experienced it that it's "really spectacular."

"It's one of the few (observatories) by the ocean on the East Coast," he said.

Contact Elisa Lala:


If you go

What: Ocean City's First Night, New Year's Eve Program

When: Monday, Dec. 31. A variety of entertainment set from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Also included are rides at Gillian's Wonderland Pier from 5 to 9 p.m. and miniature golf at Gillian's Adventure Golf from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Cost: $15 per person. Admissions buttons can be purchase at the following locations: The Wonderland Store at the Stainton's Complex, Eighth Street and Asbury Avenue and Chamber of Commerce Offices, Ninth Street across from TD Bank. You can also check out the program and order buttons at firstnightocnj.com. First Night has an Angel Fund for those who cannot afford buttons. Call 609-525-9300 to receive buttons or to contribute to the fund.

For a list of entertainment and additional info., visit firstnightocnj.com