For At The Shore
No need for a babysitter on New Year's Eve. Ocean City's 19th First Night New Year's Eve celebration offers a breathtaking array of entertainment for families and individuals. Here's another amazing thing about it - admission is just $14 per person.
And when we say variety, we're not kidding. No fewer than 60 - count 'em - entertainment programs run throughout the city, in easily walkable locations from 4 p.m. to midnight. Parking is free, jitney service is available - and the whole thing is capped off by a fireworks display to welcome 2011 - weather permitting, of course.
"Where else can you find such varied and enjoyable entertainment for just $14?" asks Michele Gillian, First Night chairperson, rhetorically, in a press release. "Ocean City is the place to be on New Year's Eve."
About 7,000 admission buttons were sold for last year's event, said Ocean City spokesman Mark Soifer.
Like any good municipal-sponsored event, First Night opens with a ribbon-cutting and greeting by city officials at 4 p.m. at the Music Pier, Boardwalk and Moorlyn Terrace. Also, find entertainment by the Main Stage Singers, face painters and a trinket giveaway.
For the kiddies' enjoyment, a First Night admission button gives access to Wonderland Amusement Park and Gillian's Miniature Golf from 5 to 9 p.m.
For music lovers, the entertainment program features something for every age group to enjoy. Back Beat, a Beatles Tribute group, provides nostalgia. Three-time Grammy nominee Trout Fishing in America lends folksiness. The popular Ocean City Pops Orchestra gets your feet tapping. The Fabulous Greaseband plays rock 'n' roll starting at 9 p.m., at the Civic Center, 6th Street and Wayne Avenue.
Musical acts also include perennial favorites Hegeman String Band and Bob Ferris Big Band Orchestra. For the first time since First Night began, Elvis-inspired performer Ted Prior will not appear as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer.
Other performerin the line-up include: Give and Take Jugglers; Jungle John Reptile Show; storyteller Jim Albertson; the Allo magic, comedy and puppet show; Chris Ivey Juggling; the magic of Chad Juros; the always crowd-pleasing Turtle Singer, and family friendly Ryan and Friends comedian and ventriloquist.
Trying to tire out the kids? Make sure to find all the inflatables for children to bounce on in the Civic Center.
Or, sit down and enjoy a full-scale production of "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" by the Ocean City Theater Company at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
In other venues, find "Broadway by Request" featuring your favorite show tunes; doo-wop singers; barbershop favorites; a gospel choir; the Cape Shore Chorale; folk singer Carl Howell; Japanese drummers; Country Joe and the Honky Tonk Heroes; the Keystone Boychoir; youth band 1-2-3 Draw; pianist Andrew Hink playing music from the Beatles, Billy Joel and his own compositions.
First Night has an Angel Fund for those who can't afford buttons. Call 609-525-9300 to receive buttons or support the fund.
While supplies last, get a free copy of the "Martin Z. Mollusk Story, Rhyme and Punishment" with an admission button purchase. Martin Z. Mollusk, the city's weather predicting Hermit Crab, is being honored by First Night for his 35 years of service to the community. His image will be on First Night Admission buttons and City Beach Tags in 2011.
Of course, all this fun makes people hungry. The Ocean City Restaurant Association provides a Taste of the Jersey Shore meal at Ocean City High School. The menu includes jumbo shrimp, scallops, clams and crabs over penne pasta and many more selections. There also is a kids' menu. Cost is $20 for adults and $8 for kids. Seatings are hourly from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check the First Night web site for a list of eateries providing refreshments.
Follow up all the New Year's Eve fun with First Day at the Beach and First Day in the Downtown. Activities begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, with entertainment in front of the Music Pier, Boardwalk, and Moorlyn Terrace.
A 5K Boardwalk Run starts at 1 p.m. at the Music Pier. Entry fee is $20. Runners receive a T-shirt while they last. Registration begins at noon on race day at the site. Call Mike Given, 609-861-0674 or contact email@example.com.
First Night T-shirts will be on sale for $20 in front of the Music Pier. Proceeds benefit First Night programs.
A First Dip in the Ocean is set for 2 p.m. at the Moorlyn Terrace Beach. About 400 enthusiastic bathers usually show up for the spirited and brief encounter with the ocean. All bathers receive a "Beach Nut" certificate signed by Martin Z. Mollusk and signifying they have braved the chill waters.
Shoppers will be able to kick off the New Year with First Day in the Downtown. Most stores along the center-city Asbury Avenue business district will open from 11 a.m. (some at 10 a.m.) to 4 p.m. Asbury Avenue is noted for its many unusual specialty stores and galleries.
First Night Ocean City
WHEN: Opening ceremony 4 p.m., activities until midnight Friday, Dec. 31
WHERE: Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and the Boardalk, and other central locations in Ocean City
MORE INFO: Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, 609-399-1412; City Public Relations Office, 609-525-9300. Admission buttons sold at Downtown Gillian's, 838B Asbury Ave. across the street from City Hall, 609-391-0060, or at