Ocean City's Night in Venice is one of the biggest events of the summer for visitors and the height of the summer social scene for bayside residents.
The annual boat parade starts this year at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 28.
The lineup of decorated boats will proceed from the base of the Ocean City-Longport Bridge along the bayfront, in and out of lagoons along the way, all the way to Tennessee Avenue (off Bay Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets).
For the first time in the 58-year history of the event, there will be no traffic delays due to Ninth Street causeway drawbridge openings. The old drawbridge was demolished and replaced by a fixed span that gives boats 55 feet of vertical clearance.
Here are some details on the annual event:
Grand Marshal will be Ocean City's Dick Richards, as one of the original members of Bill Haley's Comets.
Best Places to Watch
If you're not invited to (or crashing) one of the many private parties that help Ocean City earn the label "the wettest dry town in America," your best bet is at one of the street ends along the route. The parade lineup sometimes thins as boats choose not to complete the route, so streets at the beginning of the parade (at the north end of Ocean City) might be your best bet. There will be free grandstand seating set up at most street ends.
There is also a viewing site at the , Fifth Street and Bay Avenue, that features music by the Good Tymes Band and snacks sold by the Sting Rays Swim Team to benefit the Special Olympics Team. Gates open at 4 p.m. There is limited bleacher seating. You may bring your own chairs and blankets. Tickets are $3 for children 12 and under and $7 for adults. Get them at the second floor of City Hall or at the Music Pier Box Office.
Parking and Shuttle
Free shuttles to all viewing locations will be available from the Ocean City Municipal Airport parking lot, 25th Street and Bay Avenue, and the soccer field at Tennessee Avenue (toward the bay off Bay Avenue) starting at 4 p.m. Shuttles also will make stop at the Ocean City Community Center, 1735 Simpson Ave. The service will be available for return trips after the parade.
Both car drivers and boat captains must refrain from drinking alcohol. Ocean City Police will be patrolling the streets and directing traffic. The bay will be heavily patrolled by the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Marine Police and 14 Night in Venice patrol boats. No swimming or rafting is permitted in lagoon areas during the parade. Any activity in the lagoons during the event including water ball tossing is prohibited and will be enforced by the police.
Merchants of Venice Seafood Festival
The annual pre-parade festival is set for 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 27, between Sixth and Ninth streets on Asbury Avenue. The event features an array of seafood, entertainment and rides for kids. Seafood is for sale. Admission is free. The event is sponsored by Comcast.