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OC-Con Festival and Girls Weekend Open the Season in Ocean City

What’s Happening in Ocean City, NJ 3/22/17

Ocean City will welcome spring with the return of two great new events: The OC-Con Comic and Memorabilia Festival on April 1 and 2 and Girls Weekend from March 31 to April 2. The pair of second-year events will kick off a 2017 schedule of fun in Ocean City that stretches non-stop through First Night on Dec. 31.

Hollywood icons Billy Dee Williams and Seth Gilliam will be special guests at the OC-Con Comic Festival. A limited number of tickets are still available for exclusive photo, autograph and Q&A sessions with the stars. Visit oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice, call 609-399-6111, or stop by the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue) or the Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway.

OC-Con will open with the one-mile OC-Con Superhero Run on the boardwalk at 10 a.m. April 1, and the Superhero Obstacle Dash for 12-and-unders on the beach at 11 a.m. April 1. Run registration fee is $15 and includes admission to the show and a T-shirt. The fee for 12-and-unders is $10 and includes the Obstacle Dash as well as admission and a T-shirt. Register online.

OC-Con features meet-the-artist sessions, discussion panels, costume contests, and the display and sale of comic books and memorabilia. Show hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (April 1) and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday (April 2).

Williams starred as Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” in the “Star Wars” trilogy. His career in film, television, music and art spans five decades and began to soar in the 1970s with memorable roles in “Mahogany,” “Lady Sings the Blues” and “Brian’s Song.” He will appear and be available for Q&A, photo and autograph sessions only on April 1.

Gilliam landed his first big role as Aaron Dexter on “The Cosby Show.” He is best known as Ellis Carter on HBO’s acclaimed series “The Wire,” and he has appeared recently as Father Gabriel Stokes in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” He will be at OC-Con on Sunday (April 2) and, like Williams, will be available for Q&A, photo and autograph sessions.

Tickets for OC-Con are currently on sale and are expected to sell quickly. Prices are as follows:

  • Adult admission: $10 per day or $15 for both days.
  • Child (12 and under) admission: $5 per day or $8 for both days.
  • Billy Dee Williams Q&A: $20 (noon to 12:45 p.m. April 1)
  • Billy Dee Williams Photo: $55 (maximum two people per photo)
  • Billy Dee Williams Autograph: $50 (no photos, one item signed)
  • Seth Gilliam Q&A: $15 (10:30 to 11:15 a.m. p.m. April 2)
  • Seth Gilliam Photo: $40 (maximum two people per photo)
  • Seth Gilliam Autograph: $40 (no photos, one item signed)

For complete information on all of OC-Con, visit ocnjcon.com.

Girls Weekend features hotel and bed-and-breakfast packages, dining offers, shopping discounts, a fashion show, prizes, yoga and wellness classes, craft projects and demonstrations at various locations throughout Ocean City. The event provides a good reason to escape to the shore early in the season and to see what Ocean City’s downtown retail district has to offer. The latest event schedule, and lists of hotel, inn and spa specials are attached here and posted on the Girls Weekend Facebook event page. Check back for updates.

The weekend begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, with a Fashion Show that features styles available on the Avenue in Ocean City. Last year’s inaugural event was both a riot and a sellout, so get your tickets ($20) while they last. They are available by calling (609) 399-1412 or by visiting the City Hall Welcome Center (Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue), the Roy Gillian Welcome Center (on the Route 52 causeway), 7th Street Surf Shop, Ta-Dah (1040 Asbury Ave. location) or The Sneaker Shop (704 Asbury Avenue). The show will be held at Glazed Over Studios (also at 704 Asbury Avenue) and doors open at 6 p.m.

DOO DAH PARADE AND MR. MATURE AMERICA PAGEANT

Ocean City’s April madness continues the following weekend with the annual Doo Dah Parade and the Mr. Mature America Pageant with host Regis Philbin on April 8.

The Doo Dah Parade was first held in Ocean City in 1986 as an event to herald the end of income tax season. The route has always been the same. The parade starts at noon on Asbury Avenue at Sixth Street, proceeds to 12th Street and turns east to the Boardwalk. It concludes in front of the Music Pier at Boardwalk and Moorlyn Terrace.

For more than a decade, the parade has been anchored by hundreds of dogs from the Basset Hound Rescue League. This year’s parade lineup also will include the University of Pennsylvania Pep Band, the Hobo Band, the Atlantic City Fire Department Sandpipers and marching bands from Pleasantville High School and Ocean City High School. Emcees will announce parade entries at two separate viewing areas: in front of City Hall (Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue) and in front of the Ocean City Music Pier (Boardwalk at Moorlyn Terrace).

Registration is open to any individuals or groups who would like to participate in the parade (sign up online at ocnj.us/Doo-Dah-Parade). Dietz and Watson returns as a sponsor for the event.

The Pie-asco – which invites anybody to smoosh a friend or loved one with a shaving-cream pie – follows the parade and goes off in front of the Music Pier. The Basset Hound Olympics will be held on the practice field adjacent to Ocean City High School (just off the Boardwalk at Sixth Street) after the Pie-asco.

TV icon Regis Philbin will be grand marshal for the parade and will return in the evening to host the Mr. Mature America Pageant, Ocean City’s tribute to men ages 55 and older.

The pageant starts at 7 p.m. on the Ocean City Music Pier, and tickets ($25 to $35) are still available at oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice, by calling 609-399-6111, or in-person at the City Hall Welcome Center or the Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway.

The pageant includes competition in talent, judge’s interview, poise and appearance, and on-stage question. Philbin will conduct the on-stage interviews with contestants.

Celebrity judges will include Miss New Jersey Brenna Weick, QVC on-air host Bethanie Lori, and Jack McDade, who was Dick Clark’s first musical guest on “American Bandstand” in the 1950s. McDade will perform as part of the show.

Mark Soifer, the founder of the pageant and of many other special events in Ocean City, will be honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Soifer retired at the end of 2016 at the age of 84, after a 45-year career as public relations director for the city.

The historic Flanders Hotel returns as a founding sponsor this year. The Flanders will cater meals for contestants and will offer special rates for attendees during the pageant weekend. Boardwalk merchant We Make It Personal will provide prizes. 

TICKETS CURRENTLY ON SALE

Tickets for the following shows are available at oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice, by calling 609-399-6111, or in-person at the City Hall Welcome Center or the Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Route 52 causeway.

  • OC-Con: OC-Con Comic Festival, April 1-2, Ocean City Music Pier. Special guests Billy Dee Williams and Seth Gilliam. Autograph, photo and Q&A sessions available. Information – com.
  • Mr. Mature America Pageant: Regis Philbin hosts the pageant 7 p.m. April 8 on the Ocean City Music Pier.
  • Philly Soul and Rock & Roll: Concert to benefit American Legion Post 524, May 6, Ocean City Music Pier.
  • Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience: Pets perform amazing stunts and acrobatics, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. May 10, Ocean City Music Pier.
  • KC and the Sunshine Band: Dance concert by the iconic band, 7:30 p.m. May 28, Ocean City Music Pier.
  • Ocean City Theatre Company’s Children’s Series: Five morning stage shows on the Music Pier July 3 to Aug. 1
  • Ocean City Pops and Ocean City Theatre Company Musicals: “Fiddler on the Roof” (July 11 to 14) and “Mary Poppins” (August 8 to 11).

Tickets also are on sale (at ticketmaster.com) for the first eight shows announced in the 2017 Summer Concert Series on the Ocean City Music Pier:

  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (June 9) Tickets
  • Dave Mason (June 19) Tickets
  • The Temptations (June 26) Tickets
  • Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (July 10) Tickets
  • The Hooters (July 17 and 18) Tickets
  • Graham Nash (July 24) Tickets
  • Shawn Colvin with opening act Joan Osborne (July 31) Tickets
  • The Beach Boys (August 21 and 22) Tickets

MORE SPRING EVENTS

“BYE BYE BIRDIE” (March 30 to April 1): The Ocean City High School Drama Guild will stage four performances of the legendary musical. Shows are 7 p.m. March 30, March 31 and April 1 with a matinee at 2 p.m. April 1 at the Hughes Performing Arts Center at the high school on the beach block of Sixth Street. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and senior citizens. They will be available at the door or by calling 609-399-1290, ext. 1442.

FROM BOCELLI TO BARTON: THE RICHARD TUCKER OPERA GALA (March 30): The first in a series of free film screenings of the Lincoln Center’s finest performances features Andrea Bocelli, Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu and others. The film starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Chris Maloney Lecture Hall.

GIRLS WEEKEND (March 31-April 2): Features hotel and bed-and-breakfast packages, dining offers, shopping discounts, a fashion show, prizes, yoga and wellness classes, craft projects and demonstrations at various locations throughout Ocean City. Information: Girls Weekend Facebook event page.

OC-CON (April 1-2): Meet-the-artist sessions, discussion panels, costume contests, a superhero run, and the display and sale of comic books and memorabilia on the Ocean City Music Pier. Special guests Billy Dee Williams and Seth Gilliam. Autograph, photo and Q&A sessions available. Information – ocnjcon.com.

EDIBLE BOOK FESTIVAL (April 5): Book lovers and food lovers are invited to come see and vote on entries in a contest that includes food creations that play on book titles. Voting is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with sampling of the treats until 3 p.m. Call 609-399-2434, ext. 5222 for more information and to register an entry.

OC POPS BRASS (April 7): The first in a series of concerts featuring Ocean City Pops members includes the OC Pops Brass. Free admission to the 7 p.m. performance at the Ocean City Free Public Library.

DOO DAH PARADE (April 8): Noon on Asbury Avenue and the Ocean City Boardwalk. Free. For more information and to register to participate, visit ocnj.us/Doo-Dah-Parade.

MATURE AMERICA PAGEANT (April 8): Regis Philbin hosts the annual tribute to men 55 and older at 7 p.m. on the Ocean City Music Pier. Sponsored by Flanders.

THE GREAT EGG HUNT (April 8): The first of two egg hunts on the beach between 11th and 14th streets. Starts at 2:30 p.m.

THE GREAT EGG HUNT (April 15): The second of two egg hunts on the beach between 11th and 14th streets. Starts at 2:30 p.m.

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE (April 16): Traditional nondenominational service starts at 6:30 a.m. on the Ocean City Music Pier.

EASTER FASHION PROMENADE (April 16): Judging begins at 1 p.m. in front of the Ocean City Music Pier. The Philly Keys, a dueling piano show, will start at noon.

BOARDWALK AND DOWNTOWN MERCHANT TABLE SALES (April 29 and 30): Between Sixth and 14th streets on the boardwalk and downtown Asbury Avenue.

SJ SHORE MARCH FOR BABIES (April 30): Five-mile walk on the Ocean City Boardwalk starts at noon. Register at www.marchforbabies.org/event/sjshore.

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