Ocean City Warms Up For Summer With Springfest (Plus Slideshow)

Posted on May 1, 2011


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ocean City Season, 2011

Many years ago, in the 1970s, we opened the Boardwalk 5 & 10 for Easter weekend, but rarely saw much business in Ocean City before Memorial Day weekend. In those days, the season began on the Friday before Memorial Day, and ended promptly at noon on Labor Day.

These days, the season begins with Springfest in early May, and continues past Sunfest at the end of September.

Actually, it feels like the 2011 season started two weekends ago, with a beautiful Easter Sunday. The present weekend, which is drawing to a close as I write,  marked the transition from April to May.  We had many visitors in town for a variety of spring events, including motorcycling, kite flying, bird watching, and the wildfowl carving contest at the Convention Center. There were people on the beach, and surfers in wetsuits riding the waves.

Now, Springfest 2011 is coming up straight ahead, Thursday, May 5 through Sunday, May 8. You can find information about Springfest, as well as many activities throughout the summer, at ococean.com.

The summer of 2011 may be remembered as a summer of rising gasoline prices. But if the nice weather continues, it’s also shaping up as a season of happy vacation memories in Ocean City, Maryland, and improving prosperity for hotels, motels and restaurants. Businesses in Ocean have heard the message that consumers want value, loud and clear. Hotels, motels and restaurants are doing everything they can to keep rates affordable and offer specials.

Ocean City offers more free, family activities than most other places. The entire 10 miles of Atlantic beach at Ocean City is always free. Some of the best activities during July and August are the free evening movies on the beach twice a week, and the free concerts at Northside Park on Sundays.

Condos, Townhouses, Single-Family Houses

If you’ve ever dreamed about owning a place at the beach, or retiring near the beach, right now is a good time to start browsing. It’s definitely a “buyer’s market” for condos in Ocean City.  The area also offers more single-family homes and townhouses than many people realize, in Ocean City, and in West Ocean City and Ocean Pines. If you fancy peaceful, small-town living, you can find some charming homes — at prices that might surprise you — in towns across the Lower Eastern Shore.

Who can say if housing prices have hit bottom, or are near a bottom, either in Ocean City or most other places in America? Not me! But prices have definitely come down from where they were in 2005 and 2006.

With lower prices and interest rates, retiring near the beach, which once seemed reserved for the affluent, may now be within reach for many middle-class retirees. If you don’t have to be directly waterfront, there are bargains to be had a few blocks from the ocean, and more bargains a few miles inland.

It’s always fun to browse for a place at the beach, and who knows? If you find something you like, you can always make an offer and see what happens.

Gas Prices Across Maryland

A gasoline price sign in Laurel, MD. Does this sign suggest that some retailers want to take consumers to the cleaners?

This past Thursday, April 28, I drove from Ocean City to Columbia in Howard County, and back, keeping an eye on gas prices all along the way. I was surprised to see that prices are mostly holding in the range of $3.83 to $3.89 per gallon of regular, especially on the Eastern Shore. The highest price I saw was $4.07  near an Interstate 95 clover leaf on the Western Shore. The second highest price was in Columbia, $3.99 for regular.

Near the Bay Bridge, gas was selling for $3.89 at the WaWa and $3.93 at Exxon. Driving east on Route 50 toward Ocean City, those two stations sit side-by-side at Exit 29. Gas was $3.89 or below across the Eastern Shore. As I write this, on Sunday, May 1, gas prices in Ocean City and West Ocean City are holding steady at $3.89.

I saw some prices below $3.80 in Salisbury last week, and even below $3.70. You might spot the lower prices if you stay on Route 50 Business going through Salisbury, or get off onto Route 13, north of Salisbury. Of course prices are subject to change at any moment.

— John Hayden

Posted in: Business, Economy, Travel