Wreaths and bows, swags and lights started to adorn the Ninth Street gateway and downtown Asbury Avenue on Monday.
An outside company — Downtown Decorations Inc. — is installing holiday decorations for the city and the downtown business district.
City Council had voted in September to spend $129,000 in grant money to decorate the downtown, parts of Ninth Street, the new Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway and the Ocean City Music Pier. But with much of the downtown suffering extensive flood damage from the Oct. 29 storm, the decorations take on new meaning as stores in the shopping district reopen and work to salvage what they can of the all-important holiday season.
A series of downtown holiday promotions started on Saturday with the Earlier Than the Bird shopping extravaganza, and the community appeared to show strong support for the downtown merchants — with many shops crowded for most of the day.
The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce thanked Paul Cunningham, owner of P. Francis and president of Main Street Ocean City, for taking the lead in the project.
Main Street Ocean City's objectives are:
- "To further enhance "Americas Greatest Family Resort" and support our brand for the holidays, "An Old Fashioned Family Christmas," by providing one consistent, timeless, tasteful, theme for our city that can be enhanced or expanded as needed for many years to come."
- "To 'set the stage' for our many holiday events beginning with 'Earlier Than The Bird' the weekend before Thanksgiving through 'First Night,' our Annual New Year's Event."
- "To provide a strengthened sense of community and expand upon the holiday traditions already in place."
- "To provide another reason for our second homeowners to visit and to attract potential tourists during this important time of year to support our businesses."
- "To be a catalyst to inspire our downtown merchants to extend night hours, which every year should build greater momentum."
- "To use these new images in our marketing efforts going forward."
Much of the city's expense will be one-time for decorations that will have a useful life of 10 to 12 years. They will include wreaths and lights, swags of garland and bows to cross Asbury Avenue. The successful bidder, Downtown Decorations Inc., will be responsible for installing, removing and storing the decorations.
Continuing costs in subsequent years for redecorating will be about $19,000, according to Business Administrator Mike Dattilo.
Work this year will include: Ninth Street Gateway; Asbury Avenue lampposts decorated from Sixth to 14th streets; Asbury Avenue lampposts lit from Sixth to 11th streets; Cross-street swag on 800 block of Asbury Avenue; City Hall; Music Pier; new Ocean City Welcome Center.
Work next year in the two-year project will include: Asbury Avenue lampposts lit 11th to 14th streets; Cross-street swags 6th to 11th streets along Asbury Avenue; 34th Street Gateway.
Main Street is encouraging businesses to decorate with white lights in the windows to follow the theme.