OCEAN CITY - Having a designated driver on land or on the water are equally important and both are being encouraged by organizers at this year's Night in Venice Parade through a new partnership with the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign.

The 59th annual parade will be held 6 p.m. July 20 this year and will include the Jersey Strong Salute to Heroes to honor men and women serving in the military in the Middle East, as well as those who helped during Hurricane Sandy and in the recovery process, Mayor Jay Gillian said.

"We want to welcome everyone back to the Jersey Shore, and remind them that Ocean City's beach and Boardwalk are better than ever," Gillian said.

The HERO Campaign began in 2000 when Egg Harbor Township resident and Navy Ensign Elliott was killed by a drunken driver just after graduating the U.S. Naval Academy.

This summer, more than 150 bars from Asbury Park to Cape May are participating in the campaign, which includes serving free soft drinks to designated drivers.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to attend this year's water parade, which includes boats decorated for summertime fun and honoring military, law enforcement and first responders.

For more information on the parade see ocnj.us/niv. For additional information on the HERO Campaign see herocampaign.org.

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