The Atlantic City Alliance has decided that this year the emphasis will be on events held in the spring, summer and fall on the Boardwalk, Gardner's Basin and other areas within the city's limits.

The major emphasis will be on Atlantic City's Boardwalk and beautiful beach.

During a news conference Tuesday, the alliance announced that the volleyball Olympians who drew thousands of people to watch them play last September will return to Atlantic City for an exclusive East Coast stop Sept. 5-7. Thousands of spectators filled the grandstands, beach and Boardwalk last time and made the dual AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational one of the alliance's most successful events of 2013.

This year, general admission will be free, with VIP ticket packages available.

Meanwhile, many of the destination-defining, tourism-driving events the alliance produced in 2013 will return in 2014, along with several new citywide events that will garner national attention.

A new two-day festival will kick off the summer's showcase. There will be an action-packed firefighter combat challenge, with an amateur boxing tournament pitting police against firefighters. The firefighter combat challenge pairs off competitors dressed in full gear who will race head to head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting.

The challenges will include climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized 175-pound "victim" as they race an opponent and the clock. The event will be produced by Market City Solutions LLC and the alliance. The Fire on the Water Festival will be held at Gardner's Basin from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 17 and 18. It will be free and open to the public.

Once again, the world's top 20 sand sculptors from across the globe will create their eye-popping masterpieces in the Do AC Sands Sculpting World Cup. Before spectators' disbelieving eyes, sculptors will carve complex, detailed works, some as high as 14 feet, with just sand and water as they compete in head-to-head singles and doubles competitions for global bragging rights and the most lucrative prizes in the world.

It will take place June 19 through July 6 on the beach at Missouri Avenue. The sand art show will be open to the public with no fee from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

On June 29, the global long-distance triathlon series Challenge Family will make its debut in the United States. Athletes from across the nation and around the world will be tested to their limits over the 140.6 mile race course that begins and ends in Atlantic City.

More than 1100 triathletes have registered to participate. Challenge joins the Atlantic City Triathlon and Atlantic City Marathon as signature Atlantic City running events. This event is produced in partnership with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the alliance.

July 4 weekend, one of the top five fireworks displays in the country will be produced from two ocean barges and one marina platform. They are necessary to fill the entire island's sky. Last year, more than 250,000 people took up their favorite viewing positions along the Boardwalk and one of the many beach bar parties as well as on the Steel Pier or at the city's luxury casinos. This is the third year for the alliance fireworks display, and each year they have been bigger and better.

There is much more to come. There will be music on Kennedy Plaza's stage every night throughout the summer. Other outstanding events will be announced as the contracts are signed.

Mr. Mature America

For the first time in the history of our nation, a Mr. Mature America Pageant was held in Ocean City's Music Pier this past Saturday night. Six men - Frank Faralli Jr., 61, Rene P. Sese, 73, Eugene Ross, 89, Roy Gillian, 84, Jerry Lukas, 66, and Joel Fogel, 69 - vied for the title of Mr. Mature America. The show started with the men dressed in old-fashioned bathing suits and doing a dance number similar to that of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. The audience loved it.

The men showed their talents, including vocal presentations, dance, poetry reading, a piano performance, a caricaturist, and a harmonica number and ukulele performance. All received rousing applause.

Faralli was selected by the five judges to be the nation's first Mr. Mature America. He took his walk down the runway with a crown on his head and a sash across his chest. He made an impassioned speech to bring the evening to a close.

Additional entertainment was provided by Ms. New Jersey Senior America 2013 Vanessa Shaw; Peggy King, a Hollywood Walk of Fame legend; and soprano Nancy Fox. They were all excellent, and the crowd loved them.

Without a doubt, most of the people in the audience, who occupied every seat in the Music Pier, were surprised by the wonderful way the contestants presented themselves. There were a lot of laughs. It was a fun evening. I believe 99 percent of those in attendance will come back for the 2015 Mr. Mature America Pageant.

Congratulations to Mark Soifer, who concocted this idea, and his committee, who truly made the evening a delightful one. Our thanks to Mary Beth Neall, the show's executive producer, who also handled the announcements for the participants. Dick Sheeran, who was the news anchor and feature reporter for KYW-TV 3 for 30 years, was the master of ceremonies. He told some cute jokes and helped make the evening all the more enjoyable.

Thanks, Mark, for inviting me to be a part of your show. And thanks for making people around the nation and the world aware of Ocean City, the nation's most famous family resort.

Pinky's Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky's Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. Email Pinky at: