OCEAN CITY — Downtown Asbury Avenue is decorated for the holidays, and a full schedule of special events is planned.

The celebrations in Ocean City begin Earlier Than the Bird on Saturday, Nov. 23. The annual downtown shopping extravaganza takes place 8 a.m. to noon on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Jump-start your holiday shopping and shop in your pajamas for early-bird shopping specials at stores on Asbury Avenue between Sixth Street and 11th Street. Free turkeys will be awarded to the best-dressed, and shoppers can text in to win gift certificates and prizes from downtown merchants. Free coffee will be available at Jon & Patty’s at 637 Asbury Ave., Ocean City Coffee Co. at 917 Asbury Ave. and Starbucks at 1061 Asbury Ave. Shoppers also can enjoy a free standard doughnut at Drip ’N’ Scoop, 960 Asbury Ave.

Free horse-and-carriage rides will be available starting on the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24. Ride through downtown the old-fashioned way noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Board in front of City Hall at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue.

The 12th annual Fast and Furriest 5K Turkey Trot goes off at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving, Nov. 28. The course for this 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) race is on the Ocean City Boardwalk, and proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Ocean City. For more information, call 609-398-9500, ext. 4, or see hsocnj.org/events.

Ocean City’s small-town version of Black Friday will take place Friday, Nov. 29. The Christmas in the Downtown — "Our Miracle on Asbury Avenue" — will take place 2 to 5 p.m. The event will be a warm and entertaining time featuring carolers and performers throughout downtown Asbury Avenue between Sixth Street and 11th Street. Downtown stores will offer discount shopping for gifts, and many Asbury Avenue restaurants will be open. Free horse-and-carriage rides will be available. Entertainment and Christmas carols will begin at 4 p.m. on the steps of City Hall at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue. The event culminates around 5 p.m. when Santa Claus will emerge on the rooftop of City Hall. With the help of an Ocean City Fire Department ladder truck, Santa will descend and help light the City Hall Christmas Tree and illuminate City Hall.

The shopping discounts will continue on Nov. 30 as downtown merchants celebrate Small Business Saturday. In the evening, music lovers will enjoy a special performance of the Ocean City Pops Orchestra. “Holiday Pops: Musical Sounds of the Season” will feature popular holiday and special performances by vocalist Scott Coulter and his cast of Broadway soloists. Children of all ages will enjoy the classic Christmas songs. Joining the show will be professional dancers from the Atlantic City Ballet's production of the “Nutcracker.” The show will start 7:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier. Tickets are $25 and $20. Call 609-399-6111 or see oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice.

The festivities will continue with the annual Christmas Parade on Dec. 6, Ocean City Theatre Company’s “Lights, Camera, Christmas: 2019 Holiday Spectacular on Dec. 13-22 (see oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice for information and tickets) and the First Night (Dec. 31) and First Day (Jan. 1) New Year’s celebrations.

FIRST NIGHT BUTTONS ON SALE NOW

All-inclusive admission buttons for Ocean City’s popular and family-friendly First Night New Year’s Eve celebration are on sale. The price is a discounted $15 through Nov. 30, and they can be purchased at oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice or by calling 609-399-6111. You can also purchase tickets in person by visiting the Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Ninth Street causeway, City Hall’s Welcome Center at 861 Asbury Avenue or the Welcome Center at 46th Street and West Avenue.

First Night includes more than 70 shows and activities at venues throughout Ocean City. Visit firstnightocnj.com for more information.

ALSO COMING UP

Nov. 14: Women of Wonder Luncheon — The Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation and the Cape May County Women’s Commission will honor Ocean City Free Public Library Director Karen Mahar along with Stormy Freese and Shirley “Becki” Wilson at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City. Tickets for this scholarship fundraiser are available at atlantic.edu/wow or calling 609-463-3621.

• Dec. 2 to 14: Pottery and Mosaic Sale — The Ocean City Arts Center, 1735 Simpson Ave., will host its Pottery and Mosaic Sale 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. A meet-the-artists reception will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5.

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