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20th First Night Celebration Rings in the New Year in Ocean City – By Mark Soifer, Ocean City Publicist

(Dec. 31) This resort’s 20th Annual First Night Celebration will ring in the New Year in a big way! Activities begin 4 p.m. with opening ceremonies at the Music Pier, Boardwalk and Moorlyn Terrace and conclude with fireworks at midnight.

In between you can choose from over 70 varied entertainment programs at central locations plus access to free rides and miniature golf at Wonderland facilities. Food will be available at the Civic Center, 6th and Boardwalk and High School Cafeteria, 6th and Atlantic Ave., featuring A Taste of Ocean City by our Restaurant Assn. Refreshments will also be available at the Ocean City Senior Center, 17th and Simpson Ave. ,  the Primary School, 6th and West Ave. and St. Peter’s Church, 8th and Central Ave.

Parking will be free in all Municipal lots. Jitney Service will be provided between sites from 5 p.m. till midnight. Complete information, including a site map and entertainment details will be given to all who buy First Night admission buttons.

Admission is $14. Buttons are available seven days a week at Downtown Gillian’s, 838B Asbury Ave., (609)391-0060. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and 9 a.m. till 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. For information on accommodations, call the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, (609) 399-1412. First Night has an Angel Fund for those who can’t afford admission buttons. To receive admissions or to support the fund, call (609) 525-9300 or stop at City Hall Annex, 901 Asbury Ave., between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of activities, access www.firstnightocnj.com or call (609) 525-9300.

This year’s First Night is dedicated to Elvis performer, Ted Prior, who passed away in May. Ted’s initials have been incorporated into the program book you will receive with your First Night Admission button.

First Night is an non alcoholic entertainment program designed to provide a pleasant, safe and economical New Year’s Eve program for families and individuals. It originated in Boston and is now celebrated in many communities throughout the United Sates.

Ocean City’s First Night celebration is presented thanks to the assistance of over 80 volunteers. Michele Gillian, executive director of the City’s Chamber of Commerce, is the volunteer director.

Some of the income from First supports local charities. The rest is put back into the entertainment program for next year.

Major First Night sponsors include Ocean City Home Bank, City of Ocean City, Wonderland Pier, Ocean City Tabernacle and the Ocean City Free Public Library. The program is also made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The funds were administered by the Cape May County Cultural and Heritage Commission for the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

For more information, access www.firstnightocnj.com.

(Jan.1) FIRST DAY AT THE BEACH activities follow First Night on Jan. 1. The event begins with live entertainment in front of the Music Pier at 11 a.m.

A 5K Boardwalk Run begins at 1 p.m. in front of the Music Pier. Entry fee is $20. Runners receive a T Shirt while they last. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. the day of the race.

To register early, call Mike Given (609) 861-0674 or contact runaway@comcast.net.

First Night Shirts with replicas of all 20 First Night Admission buttons over the years will be on sale for $20 in front of the Music Pier. Proceeds benefit First Night Programs.

A First Dip in the Ocean is set for 2 p.m. on the 9th St. Beach. Hundreds of enthusiastic bathers usually show up for a spirited but brief encounter with the ocean.

All participants receive a “Beach Nut” Certificate verifying that they have braved the chill waters. All participants must register at a table In front of the Music Pier and sign a waiver form. Entry is free.

New this year will be a Clam Drain Competition on the Beach.

What is Clam Drain? It’s a new game based on shell tossing devised by local beach enthusiast, Joe Mc Gettigan of Somers Point. It features hand molded shells that are exact replicas of genuine beach shells found on theFirst St.sands inOceanCity.

McGettigan, who heads the International Clam Drain Assn., reports that his Quality Assurance Team “works hard to ensure that every crack, chip, bump and imperfection of the originals is faithfully reproduced. “ The object of the game is to toss these faithfully reproduced shells into a hole in the middle of a circle. Think horseshoes without the stake.

Followers of the game will converge on the 9th St. Beach, Jan.1 from 1 to 4 p.m. in friendly competition. Instructions will be given to the uninitiated. For more information, access www.clamdrain.com.

FIRST DAY IN THE DOWNTOWN is set for Jan. 1 along the Center City Asbury business district. Most stores will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some will be open earlier at 10 a.m.  Shop at over 100 specialty stores. Restaurants will be open.

Let’s close this column with a New Year’s inspired poem.

Advice for December 31st

Throw old calendars away

Begin a new one, don’t delay

You can’t afford to miss a day-

 

Print neatly in the open spaces

The times, the places, specifications

And don’t forget your obligations-

 

Record the things you have to do-

Your calendar will see you through

Another year of being you…

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Mark Soifer  —- Happy New Year, see you at First Night!

 

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